09 April 2018

Landlords who fail to ensure the safety of their tenants have been sent a clear message by the Tenancy Tribunal after a Christchurch landlord was ordered to pay $4,100.00 after a non-compliant gas supply was found at one of her properties.

Lina Liu, the landlord of two boarding houses, was taken to the Tenancy Tribunal by MBIE’s Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Team (TCIT) for failing to meet her responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA).

“Following complaints of a gas leak at one of the boarding houses, the gas supply to the property was found to be non-compliant. When the TCIT team looked into Ms Liu’s operations, it was established that Ms Liu failed to have working smoke alarms at both of her properties and there were no written tenancy agreements with insulation statement in place,” said National Manager Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Steve Watson.

The Tenancy Tribunal Ordered Ms Liu to pay $4000.00 in exemplary damages for these health and safety breaches, and additional $100.00 for failing to provide a written statement that adequately described the levels of insulation – a legal requirement that came into effect from 1 July 2016.

“Insulation statements were introduced to give tenants certainty and choice when it comes to choosing which rental house to live in. The lack of understanding in this area is something we see a lot in our work – it is great to see the Tribunal support the importance of these statements,” Mr Watson said.

“Just as important as the financial deterrent, the Tenancy Tribunal issued an Order that allows TCIT to return to the property to ensure the gas work has been fixed, which will ensure future tenants can safety live in the rental.”

The Tribunal Order also issued a restraining Order for two years, which means if Ms Liu is found to breach the law again in that period, she could face criminal charges in the District Court.

“Landlords need to comply with the provisions of the RTA and not put tenant safety at risk through poor maintenance and ignoring the law. The Tenancy Tribunal Order rightly stated that smoke alarms ‘go to the very heart of tenant safety’.

“Securing this type of Order highlights the important work the Team is doing across New Zealand to hold landlords who seriously breach the RTA to account,” Mr Watson said.

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