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Reasonable Notice For Access

Donna Russell debates the use of the word ‘reasonable’ notice when it comes to accessing your rental.

By: Donna Russell

1 March 2018

There still seems to be some confusion about how much notice needs to be given for arranging access with tenants. Basically, the rules are set out in the Residential Tenancies Act – section 48: landlord’s right of entry.

  • If a landlord is wishing to visit and the tenant invites them in (thereby giving consent of entry) the landlord may enter.
  • 48 hours must be given for the purpose of an inspection. Notice must not be issued more than 14 days out from the inspection and the inspection should be carried out between the hours of 8:00am and 7:00pm. The Act does not dictate that notice for an inspection should be in writing.
  • 24 hours must be given for repairs and maintenance. Common sense should prevail, however, with urgent matters in which case the tenant would likely give permission for entry.

And here’s the hairy bit that people get confused with: The tenant must give prior consent for showing the property to prospective tenants or purchasers.

Many real estate agents believe they can access with 48 hours’ notice, however don’t be fooled. The tenant must agree and give consent for the entry. This also applies to building inspectors, valuers, meth testers, in fact any expert engaged in appraising or evaluating the premises.

‘Many real estate agents believe they can access with 48 hours’ notice however don’t be fooled’

Failure to gain prior consent could result in a claim by the tenant for ‘breach of quiet enjoyment’.

It is considered an unlawful act by the tenant if they fail to allow reasonable access to the landlord under section 48. This would mean a claim for “exemplary damages” could be made against the tenant.

What Is Reasonable?

This is a very grey area and one which the Act does not define. Therefore, we must apply common sense and hope that it is within the ballpark of what the other party deems to be reasonable.

If it were to proceed to a claim at the Tenancy Tribunal can I prove my case and am I likely to win? If you can answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ again it’s clean cut if ‘maybe’ then it would be reasonable.

In terms of access, reasonable can be tricky. If a tenant wishes to be home that would be reasonable. But it would also be reasonable for this to be arranged during their lunch break as opposed to early morning or late at night. No access at all is certainly unreasonable. Irrespective of the excuse, in circumstances such as these, where heels are dug in and access completely denied, it possibly would need assessing by the Tribunal, or maybe a 90-day notice could be utilised.

The best advice I’d give is to build a good rapport between landlord and tenant to ensure that a relationship is in place. Generally speaking access then won’t be an issue and, with some compromise, all parties can achieve the desired result.

Donna Russell – RE/MAX Central/Russell Hardie Property Management (M) 027 223 2826 (E) [email protected] (W) remax.co.nz (W) russelhardie.co.nz “For all your Real Estate and Property Management needs”

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