Who pays for water damaged TV?

Miriam asks:
(updated on Wednesday, April 18th 2012)

I had a significant leak in the ceiling of the home I am renting. After just a few hours of average rain. The water went directly into my television and now it doesn't work. I asked my landlord about the state of the roof when I moved in as there were odd looking patches on the ceiling but was assured there were no leaks. Is the landlord in any way liable to help replace my telly as it was damaged by the roof not being watertight and not through any negligence on my part? Even if I had personal insurance the excess would make it not worth claiming.

Our Experts Answer:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, landlords are responsible for ensuring the premises are maintained in a reasonable state of repair. If a landlord fails to attend to the need for repairs or maintenance on the premises and this results in damage to the tenant’s possessions then the tenant may be entitled to compensation. In practical terms, it should be noted that a landlord may not be responsible for damage to the tenants’ property if they could not have been reasonably expected to know about the need for repairs or maintenance. I suggest you talk to your landlord to see if an agreement about compensation for the damage to your television can be reached. If the leak in the ceiling has not been repaired, you may wish to discuss that with the landlord also or you can give the landlord 14 days’ written notice to repair the ceiling. As this notice must be in writing, you must allow for service time and should keep a copy of the notice for yourself. A template for 14 days’ notice to remedy a breach, and information about service times can be obtained from the Department’s website (www.dbh.govt.nz). If you are not able to reach an agreement with your landlord about compensation for the damage to your television or if the ceiling is not repaired, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. To discuss your situation further or for information about a landlords obligations, you can visit the Department’s website (as noted above) or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

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