3 May 2019

Property manager, landlord fined over delayed repairs to leaky home

2:38 pm on 3 May 2019

A Dunedin property management company has been fined for making tenants live for over a year in a home in desperate need of repairs.

Damp and mold on window and frame.

A landlord and property management firm have been ordered to pay more than $2000 after delayed repairs to a house. (This image is being used for representational purposes only.) Photo: 123RF

After moving into the property managed by Lincoln Darling Real Estate Limited in January of 2017, the tenant reported rotting window frames, draughty windows and ceiling panels and a leaky roof.

Despite the landlord, named as Mr Futcher, not residing in the country, the adjudicator found that both he and the company were liable on the tenancy agreement.

The Tenancy Tribunal has ordered the company and Mr Futcher to pay more than $2000 for waiting 13 months to make repairs, which were undertaken in February last year.

The Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Team (TCIT) acting national manager, Peter Hackshaw, said the tenants were forced to use buckets and tarpaulins to protect their belongings every time it rained.

"But it's not just the damage to belongings that we were concerned about here," he said. "A leaky roof will lead to a damp home, which can result in a number of health issues for those living there."

The case adjudicator said the delay appeared to be "intentional" as the company and the landlord failed to undertake the repairs within a reasonable time period, despite having been made aware they were needed over a year earlier.

In a statement, Lincoln Darling of Lincoln Darling Real Estate, said the property owner was "unfairly treated" and had "been made an example of".

"Our landlord is long standing," he said. "There was a roof issue that was brought to his attention and in spite of numerous attempts to fix the tiled roof, a new roof for $26,000 was commissioned."

He said there was a delay in getting a new roof on due to the availability of the roofers, but other repairs were made "more immediately".

Mr Darling said the tenant had been "more than happy with the property" and had renewed her lease on three separate occasions after moving in.

"She has actually gone on to purchase a first home through our company and we have a good ongoing relationship," he said.

"The landlord has not skimped on paying for a new roof," Mr Darling said. "He is pragmatic though and moving on."

Mr Hackshaw said it was important that property management firms and landlords fully fully understand their rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act.

He said those who were not meeting their obligations could expect to be held to account.

"Every New Zealander is entitled to a warm, dry, safe home," he said. "The Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Team is focused on cases where known harm is occurring."