Tenant compensation for paint inconvenience?

Angela asks:
(updated on Friday, January 16th 2015)

Hi, my tenants would like to be compensated for two weeks motel accommodation (totalling $870) as they felt they could not live in the rental property due to the bathroom being repainted (oil based paint). The tenants have stated that the smell was unbearable and has caused them medical issues which required x-rays. The tenants did not mention the two weeks accommodation until after the fact. There was also no effort to ventilate and they refused to leave the bathroom window open ajar as it was too cold and they felt unsafe doing so. The bathroom door can be shut preventing the cold air from reaching the bedroom or lounge and the window is not able to be completely opened preventing anyone from entering (unless they forced entry). The painters confirmed the smell would only last a few days with proper ventilation. I would like to know where I stand as the landlord? Am I required to compensate them? I feel this amount is excessive as two weeks rent for my property only totals $690.

Our Experts Answer:

The purpose of compensation is to restore a loss that the tenants have incurred.  This loss may be financial, or it may be a measure of discomfort or inconvenience, It appears that some of the tenants’ inconvenience could have been lessened if they were more active in airing the recently-painted bathroom.  I suggest you try to come to an agreement with the tenants over a reasonable contribution that recognises the degree of inconvenience caused by the painting (but also recognising that the time could have been shortened by the tenants opening the window and allowing ventilation).  If you can’t agree, the tenants can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for a decision about an appropriate level of compensation, if any.

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