Tenant renovation agreement

Question from Tel updated on 23rd December 2019:

My landlord wants to paint the complete interior of my rental. It could put us out of our home and/or really inconvenience for up to two weeks.

We have been very accommodating when they had the outside of the house painted and roof done and then again when all the carpet and vinyl was done. We are also never compensated for power and water used by tradies. We feel we have only really unpacked from the flooring.

It is another inconvenience and we live away from family so do not have the luxury of being able to just stay with them. What are our rights? Can we say no to this work being carried out at the moment?

Our expert Jennifer Sykes responded:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, a landlord has a responsibility to provide and maintain rental premises in a reasonable state of repair considering the age and character of the premises. Although ongoing maintenance is required with any residential tenancy, the Act also states that a tenant is ‘entitled to have quiet enjoyment of the premises without interruption by the landlord or anyone at the premises on the landlord’s behalf.’

Any work that is not necessary repairs or maintenance, like interior cosmetic improvements, may only be done with the tenant’s agreement at a mutually agreed time. Speak to your landlord in the first instance about options that may work for both of you, such as:

• Requesting a rent reduction until the interior painting is completed

• Asking for compensation for the power and water used by the tradespeople

• Negotiating the timing of the painting work

• Checking if the landlord will consider contributing to the costs of moving temporarily to alternative accommodation for the time the work is being carried out.

If you are unable to come to an agreement regarding timing of cosmetic improvements, the landlord cannot enter the premises to carry out the work. Either party can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved.

For more information on access, go to tenancy.govt.nz/maintenance-and-inspections/access. You can also subscribe to our e-newsletter Tenancy Matters here.  

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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