Responsibility for damage caused by damp property
Question from Kuljit updated on 22nd February 2011:
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.