Slippery pathway

Question from Wigmore updated on 11th July 2012:

My tenant has complained that the steps and driveway have become slippery after the damp summer. The tenant would like tactile strips placed on each step leading to the house. The driveway was apparently slippery as result of dirt/moss building up on the concrete between the smooth stones. The tenant hired a water blaster and cleaned it and is now asking to be reimbursed and has also suggested they would like this arrangement quarterly to the tune of $70 each time. Are we required to do this or is it the tenant’s responsibility?

Our expert Juliet Robinson responded:

The landlord is required under section 45 (d) of the Residential Tenancies Act to compensate the tenant for “any reasonable expenses incurred by the tenant in repairing the premises” where “the state of disrepair has arisen... ...and is likely to cause injury to persons...” and the tenant has brought the state of disrepair to the landlord’s notice. This second requirement stops a tenant simply hiring water blasters because he or she decides there is a health and safety issue. They must at least attempt to notify the landlord of the problem. But if they do then it is the landlord’s responsibility to prevent the paths deteriorating to a state where they are too slippery and “likely to cause injury”. Did the tenant clean the concrete steps too? I am assuming that they cleaned the steps and the driveway. If so, although they should have notified you in advance, I suggest that they have done you a favour in doing the water blasting themselves rather than leaving you to do the work or to hire a contractor (at an resultant fee possibly in excess of $70). You may want to reimburse them and keep them on-side. The tactile strips and the ongoing water blasting, both suggested by the tenant, are your decision. They are “future-proofing” options rather than an immediate requirement. While a tenant is responsible for keeping a property “reasonably clean and tidy”, a build-up of moss on a driveway is unlikely to be a tenant’s fault and is more likely to be environmental (cold and moist weather conditions). You should probably check the paths and driveway regularly during your inspections. You will then know whether they need further treatment.

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