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Inaction On Repairs Will Cost

We look at two recent Tenancy Tribunal cases which highlight the dangers of being tardy with repairs.


1 June 2019

Good landlords know it’s well worth acting quickly when a rental property needs repairs. That’s not only because it keeps tenants happy but it will keep the costs down. And two recent Tenancy Tribunal decisions make it clear that inaction will be frowned upon.

In one case, Lincoln Darling Real Estate & Futcher v Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment [2019], slow action on a leaky roof earned a property management company and an absentee landlord a fine and a reprimand from the Tribunal.

Dunedin property management company, Lincoln Darling Real Estate, and Matthew Futcher, who lives overseas, rented a property to the tenant in early January 2017. Shortly after moving in, the tenant found several issues with the house. These included rotting window frames, draughty windows and ceiling panels, and a roof leak.

The tenant advised the property manager of the leak in the roof on January 18, 2017, but it wasn’t replaced until February 2018. Over that winter water leaked from the ceilings into the bedrooms each time that it rained. The tenant had to use buckets and tarpaulins to collect the water and to protect her children’s belongings from water damage.

Eventually, the tenant contacted MBIE’s Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Team who took the case to the Tribunal. The Tribunal found that the company and the landlord were made aware of the need for repairs over an extended period of time, but failed to undertake those repairs within a reasonable time period. This failure to act qualified as an intentional breach.

“It’s important that both property management companies and absent landlords fully understand their rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act. Those who are not meeting their obligations under the Act can expect to be held to account.”

The Tribunal found that even though Futcher lives overseas, both he and the property management company were liable and would both have to pay a fine. They were ordered to pay $2,020.

In another recent case, Burdett v Templeton-Knight [2019], the Tribunal awarded the tenant $9,280 in compensation and damages after the landlord failed to repair a large hole in the floor of the main bedroom of a rental for two years. This case involved several different issues, but the tenant had asked the landlord to make repairs to the property, including the hole, on seven different occasions. The Tribunal found the landlord’s failure to act meant the tenant had to endure a lack of security, exposed electrical wiring, and leaks throughout the tenancy. The property was not provided in a reasonable state of repair and the tenant was owed compensation.


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