When can landlords enter a rented property?

Amy asks:
(updated on Tuesday, July 31st 2007)

My landlords live out of town and constantly turn up unannounced. He will often just "pop up" to do some work and I mentioned to him a few times ago that it would be good if he could just let me know beforehand- text, email, phone call- I don't mind...but just out of courtesy. He often comes at annoying times as well- 7pm on a Sat night for example! He gets kind of annoyed when I say he should give notice and I have asked him a few times before. I have never lived in a rental which has required so much work and I've seen them way too may times for my liking! What can I do? I am scared they will see me as a trouble maker and just hand me a 90 day notice. So I don't want to rock the boat.

Our Experts Answer:

Under section 48 of the Residential Tenancies Act a landlord may enter the premises only:
• with the tenant's consent at the time of entry
• in an emergency
• for repairs or maintenance, from 8 am to 7 pm, after 24 hours notice
• for an inspection of the property or work done by the tenant, from 8 am to 7 pm after 48 hours notice
• with the tenant's prior consent, to show the premises to prospective tenants, purchasers or a registered valuer.

Consent may not be unreasonably withheld but reasonable conditions may be imposed. The first step to addressing the problem is to discuss it with your landlord to see if you can reach an agreement about when you will allow him entry to the flat. Sometimes writing down your concerns can help explain them to the other person. Having a written record of your complaint can also help to protect you should the landlord then serve you with a 90 day notice to end the tenancy. A landlord cannot be motivated to end a tenancy based on the tenants wishing to exercise their rights under the Act.

If this is the case, under section 54 of the Act the Tenancy Tribunal may overturn the notice. If this discussion fails to resolve the matter you may wish to consider lodging a Tenancy Tribunal application with the Department of Building and Housing. The Department can then set up a mediation between you and your landlord where a trained mediator will work with you to help settle the dispute. If the dispute is not resolved by mediation and you feel the landlord has breached your rights under the Act, you can then have the matter referred to the Tenancy Tribunal for a binding decision. For information on lodging a Tribunal application call our free phone number 0800 TENANCY (0800 83 62 62) 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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