What recourse do I have for un-permitted alterations?

Victoria asks:
(updated on Thursday, September 17th 2009)

I am a beginner landlord and have tenants in my property. I have a contract with tenants and there clearly stated
*tenant shall not make or allow to be made any alteration, installations, repairs or redecoration of any kind to the property.*
I found out that they made alterations of the roof near the entrance of the house during my last property inspection. They removed the old roof poles, replaced with new and moved away, having changed the roof covering. All construction is looking weak and ugly. They haven’t asked permission from me. Also I guess there was no made approval from city council regarding the extension at all. I made a note in my property report and took photos of new construction. My question is what is my legal steps in this case?

Our Experts Answer:

As well as being covered in your tenancy agreement, the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 also prohibits tenants from making any renovations, alterations, or additions to the premises without written approval in advance from the landlord.

If repairs are necessary, tenants have to advise the landlord. You can write to the tenant giving them reasonable notice to restore the roof to its original condition. You can download a template for giving notice from the Department of Building and Housing’s website.

If you cannot resolve this by discussing it with your tenant, if the damage has not been repaired within the period in your letter, or if the tenancy has ended, you may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. To discuss your situation further, or for information and advice about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can contact the Department of Building and Housing on 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262) between 8am and 5.30pm Monday to Friday, or visit www.dbh.govt.nz.

The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.



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