Responsibility for damage caused by damp property

Question from Kuljit updated on 22nd February 2011:

We moved into our Rental property about 5 Weeks ago. We've had problems from Day 1. The house was dirty when we moved in the previous tenant did not clean at all. The cleanner arrived 1 week later. So on the day we moved in I spent 2 hours cleaning the house. Even the cleaners that can a week later didn't do a good jub so more cleaners were called in an week later to clean!!! any way the house was not very clean but livable when we moved in. The issue is now there is major damp in the property. All the walls as well as windows are litterly dripping wet. this caused our sofas to grow mould. our main sofa is now unusable as it had spots of mould. And due to the samp our clothese are also smelling of damp. I want to know Can I claim compensation from the landlord/ property manager for the damage to my sofa and clothes? Thanks

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

Landlord’s have a responsibility to provide the premises in a reasonably clean and tidy condition at the start of the tenancy. Where a property is not provided in this condition, the tenant can give the landlord a 10 working days’ notice to carry out the necessary work, and keep a copy for themselves. A template for a 10 working days’ notice can be downloaded from the Department of Building and Housing’s website (www.dbh.govt.nz).

If the landlord does not comply with the notice, the tenant could apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. Responsibility for the cost of damage caused by excess moisture in the property would depend on the actual cause of the damp problem. If the damp is present because of a maintenance problem (e.g. due to a leak the landlord is responsible for which has not been repaired), then the landlord may be liable for any damage caused.

However, if the problem is present due to the tenants’ actions (e.g. not ventilating the property or using un-flued gas heaters), then the tenant may be liable. I suggest addressing the matter with your landlord to try and determine the cause of the problem, and where the responsibility lies. Landlords have an obligation to ensure the premises are maintained in a reasonable state of repair, and comply with all the relevant health, safety, and building regulations.

Tenants have an obligation to ensure the premises are kept in a reasonably clean and tidy condition, and are responsible for any damage caused carelessly or intentionally by them or their invited guests. If you and your landlord cannot agree on a solution, or who will pay the cost of the damage, you could apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to resolve the matter. To discuss your situation further, or for information about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can visit the Department of Building and Housing website (www.dbh.govt.nz), or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

 

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