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Repairs and Maintenance

Repairs and maintenance

Image indicating new information Rental premises must be weatherproof and structurally sound, making sure the roof, floors, ceilings, walls and stairs: 

  • are in good repair; 
  • are not significantly damp; and
  • are not liable to collapse because they are rotted or otherwise faulty. 
  • Note: if the rental agreement is signed, extended or renewed: 
    • before 1 August 2015 the minimum standard does not apply until 1 August 2018;
    • between 1 August 2015 and 31 July 2016 the minimum standard does not apply until 1 August 2016; 
    • after 1 August 2016 the minimum standard applies immediately. 

Image indicating new information A property owner must not enter into, extend or renew a rental agreement unless the premises are in good repair. 

  • Note: if the rental agreement is signed:
    • between1 August 2015 and 31 July 2016 the minimum standard does not apply until 1 August 2016 (12 months after commencement);
    • before 1 August 2015 and the renewal date is after 1 August 2018 the minimum standard applies on 1 August 2018 (3 years after commencement of the provision);
    • after 1 August 2016 the minimum standard applies immediately.

 

General (non-urgent) repairs 

  • Both the tenant and the property owner must maintain the premises in as near as possible to the same condition it was in when the tenancy started - apart from reasonable wear and tear.
  • If repairs are needed:
    • A tenant must notify an owner/agent within 7 days;
    • If the tenant is not at fault for the repairs, the property owner must make the repairs at their own cost.
    • If the tenant caused the need for repair the tenant must pay any costs.
  • While it is not a legal requirement that the tenant notify the property owner/agent in writing of the need for repair, it is recommended that this is done in writing (letter/email/text message) and that the tenant keep a copy of this notice. This may assist in dealing with any disputes over repairs at a later stage.
  • The property owner/agent has 28 days from when they were notified by the tenant to do the repair except if the repair relates to a cooking stove in which case the owner has 14 days;
  • An 'essential service' requiring repair can also be 'replaced' if the replacement is of the same standard.

Some common problems

Urgent and emergency repairs

Emergency repairs are usually required when damage occurs (eg, a broken window from a storm). If this happens the tenant must notify the property owner of the urgent repair as soon as they are aware of the problem.

Essential services include:

  • water
  • sewerage
  • removal of waste water from kitchens, bathrooms and laundries
  • electricity
  • heating
  • cooking stove
  • hot water service

If an essential service has ceased to function, the property owner has an obligation to carry out the repairs as soon as practicable after being notified of the need for repair.  An essential service requiring repair can be replaced if the replacement is of the same standard.

Maintenance

  • As an owner
    • You must maintain the property during the course of the tenancy agreement, to make sure it stays in a similar condition as agreed at the start of the tenancy.
    • You must allow for reasonable wear and tear.
    • You are responsible for the replacement of:
      • inaccessible light globes and light tubes
      • tap washers
      • fuses not in a fuse box
  • As a tenant
    • You must keep the property in a reasonable state of cleanliness, to make sure it stays in a similar condition as agreed at the start of the tenancy.
    • You are responsible for replacing common items such as:
      • light globes and light tubes that are reasonably accessible
      • fuses in a fuse box 

Disputes and orders for repair

  • The property owner must complete repairs within the required time otherwise they may be in breach of the tenancy agreement. 
  • Where the property owner fails or refuses to carry out repairs, the tenant should:
  • As of 1 October 2014, a tenant may apply to the Residential Tenancy Commissioner, using the Online Complaint form, for an order requiring the owner to carry out repairs if the owner fails, refuses or delays the repair.
  • If the tenant has a fixed term agreement they may choose to leave the tenancy by serving the property owner/agent with a Notice to Terminate for failure to carry out repair.
  • A Fact Sheet - Order for Repairs (pdf, 109.1 KB) is available for both tenants and property owners.