Who pays for a water leak?

Question from Kate updated on 12th February 2009:

Hi, 1 month into renting a property we have found a leak at the water mains. We have asked the landlord to get it looked at, however, they have told us it is the tenants responsibility to contact the water board and get it sorted. Is this correct?

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

Tenants are liable for damage they or their invited guests carelessly or intentionally cause. They are also obliged to notify the landlord about any necessary maintenance, so that the landlord can arrange for repairs. If the leak was not caused by you or your invited guests, I suggest you contact your landlord and remind them that one of their obligations is to maintain the premises. If the landlord does not fix the leak, you can give them a 10 Working Days’ Notice requiring them to fix the leak within that time. You can download a template for the 10 Working Days’ Notice from the Department of Building and Housing website (www.dbh.govt.nz). Because this is written notification, you should keep a copy for yourself, and you must allow service times for delivery of the notice to your landlord. This means that if you hand the letter to your landlord the 10 working day period takes effect immediately. However, if you drop it in your landlord’s letterbox you must allow an extra two working days, and if you post it to your landlord you must allow four working days. If the landlord does not have the leak repaired, you may wish to pursue the matter through the Tenancy Tribunal. To discuss your situation further, or for advice and information about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can contact the Department of Building and Housing on 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

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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