Tenants restricting entry

Question from k1evin updated on 8th October 2015:

I am looking for some advice on a sale of my tenanted property. The tenants have been very unhelpful in allowing access to the real estate agents for viewing and only agreeing to open homes. That I can live with. I have reduced the rent be $50 per week to try and soften the blow of the place being sold on them.

But now they are restricting us to the point where prospective vendors cannot get a building inspection done as they will only allow a 1/2 hour time slot where we need one hour for the inspection. They are now seriously jeopardizing the sale. What rights do I have as a landlord to enforce the visit for building inspections? Am I able to persue them for any lose of sale or reduced sale proceeds due to restricted access for marketing and inspections and etc?

Our expert Alan Bruce responded:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, landlords have certain rights of entry to the premises.

A landlord would need to obtain the consent of the tenant to enter the premises for the purpose of showing the premises to (but not limited to):

• prospective purchasers

• a registered valuer engaged in the preparation of a report on the premises

• a real estate agent engaged in appraising, evaluating, or selling or otherwise disposing of the premises

• an expert engaged in appraising or evaluating the premises

• a person who is authorised to inspect the premises under any enactment.

In the above circumstances, the tenant cannot unreasonably withhold their consent. However, they may attach reasonable conditions to this consent. Entry into the premises in such situations by the landlord other than with the tenant’s consent would be considered an unlawful act, as would be the case if the tenant were to unreasonably withhold access to the landlord.

If it is considered that the tenant is unreasonably withholding access, a landlord may make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. Such an application may include seeking an order to allow access times and compensation or damages if the Tribunal determines the tenants have acted unlawfully.

You may wish to highlight to the tenant their obligations under the Act relating to access to see if this may resolve the matter. It is also recommended that you seek independent legal advice regarding any potential issues with the terms and conditions of any sale and purchase agreement.

If you need any further assistance or advice please visit our website at www.tenancy.govt.nz or call our Tenancy Advice line on 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262) Monday to Friday between 8am and 5.30pm.

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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