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Landlord or tenant: who's responsible for property maintenance?

By The Lodge Real Estate Team on 2017-05-24

Blog-12-Landlords-vs-tenants-who's-responsible-for-what_-635x326.pngWhen it comes to rental maintenance, it can be difficult to know who is responsible for what. Who is responsible for cleaning or maintaining the smoke alarms? Is it you, or the tenant? Sometimes the lines get blurry.

Let’s look closely at what the rules say about rental property maintenance and get some clarity.

Landlord responsibilities

The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 is the bible of renting property. And when it comes to the upkeep of a property, a landlord’s responsibilities are—in layman’s terms:

  • To keep the property in a reasonable state of cleanliness, which includes pruning trees, hedges and shrubs in the garden.
  • To maintain the property in a reasonable state of repair so it is safe to live in. This extends to fixing any damaged trees, shrubs or hedges and making sure they are safe.
  • Meet the new requirements for smoke alarms.
  • Comply with new insulation regulations.

  • And the gutters? They—along with the roof, external cladding, fence (basically all physical structures on your property)—are your responsibility.


You might be interested in our guide: Rental property management: what new landlords need to know

Tenant responsibilities

While tenants don’t have the same level of responsibility as the landlord when maintaining a rental property, they still have a few obligations, namely:

  • Keep the house clean and tidy. This usually includes mowing the lawns and weeding the gardens.
  • Notify the landlord of any damage or repairs needed to the property.
The act also stipulates what tenants should not do, which includes:
  • Intentionally damaging the property, or permitting someone else to.
  • Interfering with any fire escape routes.

Read more: The full list of tenant responsibilities

Further rules in the tenancy agreement

With the tenancy act covering the big stuff, there’s also an opportunity to add in extra clauses (or clarify certain responsibilities), in the residential tenancy agreement between you and your tenant. All you have to do is make sure both parties understand, agree and sign the agreement.

Here are a few common additions.

Tenants must:

  • Replace batteries in smoke alarms.
  • Not alter the property without the landlord’s consent.

Read more: A sample residential tenancy agreement


Note for landlords

As part of the new insulation regulations your tenancy agreement must disclose if your rental has insulation, where it is and what condition it is in.

Stay up-to-date with new changes in the New Zealand rental landscape, and get useful advice and tips in our free guide, The Landlord’s Handbook.

Download now

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