Maintaining your property
On this page:
Regularly checking the condition of your property and repairing any damage or wear and tear as soon as possible is important (our ConsumerBuild website has some great tips on maintenance).
Landlords are required to provide premises in a ‘reasonable state’ of cleanliness for an incoming tenant.
By presenting the property in a tidy condition, a landlord helps set the expectation for what ‘reasonably clean and tidy’ means, particularly when a tenancy expires. This extends to eliminating infestations and curing mould or damp issues.
A tenant’s sense of clean and tidy conditions could be different from the landlord’s. Particular behaviours of the tenant may create excessive mould, damp or insect activity.
Once the tenant moves in, they are responsible for maintaining the premises in a clean and tidy condition.
Issues to do with cleanliness and tidiness tend to change with the seasons. For example, around spring and early summer complaints about cleanliness are often linked to concerns about insects or infestations. Around autumn and winter, there are more complaints about damp and mould. Winter is also a common time to receive complaints about rat or mice infestations.
Back to top
Landlords should take responsibility for fumigations and any rodent or insect issues before a new tenancy begins.
Some landlords arrange an annual fumigation (at their cost) as part of the terms of the tenancy agreement.
Landlords may also want to record that there are no known infestations or recent infestation issues in the tenancy agreement.
Infestations that can be attributed to a lack of cleanliness by the tenant could be argued to be the responsibility of the tenant as part of their obligation to keep the premises reasonably clean and tidy. In those cases, a landlord could seek an order from the Tenancy Tribunal for the fumigation work to be done and for the tenant to be charged for this.
Back to top
Mould and damp
During winter months, there is usually a sharp increase in tenants seeking advice about living conditions.
Take an honest look over your property and consider the following points:
- Are laundry areas with dryers adequately ventilated? Hot air emitted internally will cause condensation.
- Is there a covered outdoor area for a tenant to dry washing on a clothes airer, rather than inside?
- If dampness is present, does the house need under-floor sealing with building paper or polythene?
- Are any of your tenants sleeping on a floor mattress? You may need to talk to your tenants as mattresses make damp areas on the floor, and are not ideal for their health.
Bathroom and kitchen ventilation
- These are high-use areas where steam and condensation are often present. Consider whether extractor fans are needed or safety catches on windows that allow them to remain open.
- Consider what insulation is available on the property, and is it possible to install ceiling, wall and under-floor insulation to increase the value of your asset?
- What type of heating is there? Flued gas heaters emit a lot less water than unflued gas heaters, reducing condensation and damp.
- Do your gutters, down pipes and drains need repairs or cleaning?
- Do any outside taps drip?
- Does your shower curtain sit inside the bath to prevent overflow?
- If you have aluminium joinery, check the drip holes are clear. Some older joinery does not have drip holes.
- Are the inside linings of your cupboards, wardrobes and closets dry?
- Are the air vents in the foundation areas of your house clear?
- Are the under-house pipes in good condition?
- Do the curtains have adequate thermal backings?
- Do any trees or scrubs need pruning to reduce dampness or enable better light and sun?
Back to top
Regular property inspections are a good way to spot any problems and keep in contact with your tenant. By law, you can’t do inspections more frequently than once in four weeks, except to check on work done by the tenant.
You need to give your tenant 48 hours’ written notice of an inspection.
Back to top
Who does repairs and maintenance?
Landlords must maintain the property and make sure the locks and fastenings are adequate. That means doing any necessary repairs – you must give the tenant 24 hours’ written notice of entry to repair.
You must also pay the tenant back for any urgent repair work the tenant had to have done, as long as the tenant made reasonable attempts to notify you before having the work done.
Tenants must notify their landlord immediately if something needs to be repaired. Sometimes tenants damage a property, or neglect to keep it clean and tidy. The tenant is responsible for any damage that they, or their guests, cause – either intentionally or carelessly.
If you feel the problem can be solved (the damage repaired or the place tidied up), you can give the tenant a notice to fix / repair the damage (here’s a sample notice [PDF 11KB, 1 page]).
If the repair or damage is ongoing and amounts to a breach of the tenancy agreement, you can serve a notice giving them 14 days to get the work done.
If you feel the problem can be solved (the damage repaired or the place tidied up), you can give the tenant a notice giving them 14 days to get the work done.
If the work is not done within the 14 days, then you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for:
- an order to do the repairs, or
- the tenancy to be ended for breaching the tenancy agreement, if it is decided the situation is serious enough.
Back to top
It’s important to insure your rental property against damage that may occur, either through accident or otherwise. Our information sheet What insurance do I need?, explains the insurance landlords and tenants should have, and what happens if an insurance company takes over a claim.
Back to top