Unconsented tenant work

Question from chrissy updated on 29th October 2018:

Good tenants of 12 months, who are renting my residential property with a small home based business in a separate building but on the same title, have recently converted the garage attached to the business into another commercial work space. They did this without either my consent as the landlord or the council’s consent. This occurred as soon as we left for an extended overseas trip.

My agent has dealt with it all by the book. However, the tenants have failed to respond to the agent’s requests for evidence that it has been completed to comply with regulations. The tenancy is a fixed term of one year with a right to renew for a total of one more next May.

What are my options here as the work may have compromised a firewall, which leads me to question the validity of the property insurance too?



Our expert Jennifer Sykes responded:

Tenants must ensure that they use the rental property primarily for residential purposes. Carrying out alterations to a part of the premises without the permission of the landlord, or without the necessary Council consents is a breach of the tenancy agreement and may be viewed as careless or intentional damage. Tenants must also ensure they do not use the premises in a manner that would change the use of the premises before first notifying their landlord and if agreed their local council.

Where a tenant has breached their responsibilities, the landlord should issue a “notice to remedy” which is a letter that gives the tenants a set amount of time to remedy the breach. It also sets out the consequences if this is not done, which may include the landlord seeking compensation or termination of the tenancy.

Where a landlord offers a “right of renewal” and the tenant takes up this offer, a landlord cannot refuse this. If the right of renewal is refused, or if the notice to remedy is not complied with, then either party can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matters resolved.

For more on the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants go to https://www.tenancy.govt.nz or you can also subscribe to our e-newsletter 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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