Tenant reno arrangements

Emma asks:
(updated on Monday, November 28th 2016)

I am looking to start renovation of a dated property.

This will involve a complete renovation of the kitchen (possibly removing a structural wall). It may also involve renovation of the laundry and bathrooms. Realistically the house will not be liveable during this time. I have existing tenants who are very good and I do not want them moving out.

What are my responsibilities/obligations to them while the house is being renovated - eg: do I have to pay for there accommodation elsewhere or do they not pay rent during this time?

Our Experts Answer:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, by granting a tenancy agreement you have given your tenants the right to occupy the premises in exchange for them paying the agreed rent until the tenancy comes to an end.

In order to undertake the renovation work you have described, without ending the tenancy, you will need to come to an arrangement with your tenants regarding how this is to occur. Whether the tenants remain in the tenancy during the renovations or move out for a temporary time - any such agreement should be in writing and clearly describe the terms and conditions of what has been agreed to.

Suggestions of what could be included in the agreement are: the expected time it will take to complete the renovations; the alternate arrangements agreed on for the tenants and their belongings; who will pay for outgoings (such as power and water) that are in the tenants’ name, and what will happen if the renovations are not completed in the expected time frame. In this instance, some options could include offering a rent holiday, reducing the rent for a specified time, or paying for alternative accommodation (if it is agreed that the tenants will temporarily vacate the tenancy during the renovation work).

If you cannot come to an agreement with the tenants, and if the renovations are not deemed necessary repairs or maintenance, you may not be able to undertaken the renovation work while the premises are tenanted. If the work involves necessary repairs or maintenance, a landlord has the right to give tenants not less than 24 hours’ notice of the entry and the reason for it.

For further information regarding landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities, you can visit www.tenancy.govt.nz or subscribe to our tenancy landlord e-newsletter.

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