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Property Repair and Maintenance Obligations As A Landlord

Photo: Skippers Canyon Queenstown (28) by Bernard Spragg. NZ

A landlord is required to maintain their property in a reasonable state of repair and comply with all relative legislation.

Maintaining the property

As a landlord, you are required to comply with all legislative building, health, and safety requirements. Keeping the property safe and working properly means maintaining plumbing, electrical wiring, anything to do with the structure of the house, and adequate locks.

Carrying out regular inspections can help to insure that repairs and damages are addressed in a timely manner.

Who’s responsible for fixing damage?

The person responsible for fixing damage on the property depends on who caused it. In the case of intentional damage on behalf of a tenant or their guest, the landlord can call upon the tenant to fix the damage or to pay the cost associated with replacement or repair.

The tenant is not responsible for fair wear and tear to the property when they have been used normally. The tenant is also not responsible for any damage arising from burglaries or natural disasters such as storms, floods and earthquakes.

In either case, the tenant is responsible for notifying the landlord of any damage or need for repairs as soon as possible.

Lawns and gardens

Both the landlord and tenant can hold responsibility for the maintenance of lawns and gardens. The tenant is responsible to keep the grounds clean and tidy. Outside cleaning and maintenance tasks such as cutting the lawn and weeding gardens should be detailed and agreed upon in the tenancy agreement to avoid misunderstandings over whether the tenant or landlord is responsible.

Urgent repairs

If the state of disrepair is likely to cause injury to people or property, a tenant can have maintenance work done and ask the landlord to pay them for it. A landlord must pay the tenant back for any urgent repair work the tenant had to have done, so long as the tenant made reasonable attempts to let the landlord know first.

Curious about light bulb etiquette? The Tenancy Act doesn’t specify who’s responsible for lightbulbs. Replacing the light bulbs could fall on the tenant if the landlord supplied them but the tenant took them at the end of the tenancy, or if they were damaged intentionally or carelessly. For non-standard light bulbs, the landlord is more likely to be responsible as these can be more difficult to replace. And what if you have standard bulbs that have blown? This can go either way - they can be seen as replaceable by the tenant, or seen as fair wear and tear and replaceable by the landlord.

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