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675 posts

Ultimate Geek
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# 142509 15-Mar-2014 11:11
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Hi everyone, I was hoping some one could help me with a little bit of advice on my situation!


The story:
My partner, myself and her daughter moved into our place in Christchurch around February last year. We moved in knowing one of the 3 bedrooms had been water damaged, but we would have a cheaper rent until it was repaired. It was only cosmetic at this stage (ie missing skirting board) so we accepted, as this was just going to be my office.

About a month ago, the roof got repaired, the room got cosmetically fixed and our rent went up. That's fine, we knew this was going to happen.


All was going well until we had the rain storm just over a week ago. Rain water started dripping from the ceiling across our main bedroom (making it un-usable) as well as leaking in through the floor in my office (we live in a two story, both rooms are upstairs).


First thing on Wednesday morning I rang our property agent, telling them about our issues. At this stage we are sleeping on the floor in my office, since the bedroom is not livable. 1/8th of my office had a completely saturated carpet.

They told me they would ring the builder who did the roof and get him out as soon as possible. After not hearing any word, I rang them back later that afternoon, upon emphasizing the situation we managed to get our property agent and the builder to visit the same day! Finally I thought.

The builder had a very brief look on the roof, couldn't find the issue and said he would have to have another look in the morning. This was understandable as it was late. This is where the fun begins.

No visit from the builder in the morning (as promised), or the day after. I was very busy at this time as I was flying to Melbourne on the Saturday, so I did not have time to chase the property agent's up. We did however get visited by some moisture people, who lifted the carpet in my office and tested the walls. A whole section of the ceiling in our bedroom is completely saturated with water, as well as some of the wall.

I flew off to Melbourne, with my cellphone in case they needed to call me to arrange a visit. They didnt.

Getting back on the following Wednesday (1 week after the initial issue) I rang them up to chase up some progress, as from my point of view none had been made (aside from letting the carpet air out). I also asked for a rent reduction from our usual $350/week to $250/week, which I thought was more than reasonable.

One of the managers from the property company came out to take a look herself, as well as having the moisture people back over and a insurance inspector. The conclusion from the moisture specialists was that the floor in the corner of my office was past getting better (it has gone to wheetbix) and the roof in our main bedroom was a replacement job (for the damaged section) and probably the same for the wall.

I was assured on Wednesday that the manager from our property agents would keep in close touch.

Thursday goes by, no word.

Friday afternoon, still no word, so I call. Apparently the builder has assured them that the issue has fixed (im very skeptical, but I'll cautiously take them at their word), the office is waiting on the insurance inspectors report, but I can apparently "put the carpet back down and push my desk back into the damaged side of the room". The problem is, this issue has not been fixed, next time it rains the carpet is going to be saturated all over again! Not to mention wet anything that is in that corner of the room, contacting the floor.

I also found out they had turned down my request for a rent decrease (until the issues were fixed). They instead offered me a $50, one off reduction.

I'm left a bit annoyed to say the least. I am a realist, some times these things happen, as rubbish as they are, but $50!?!? Could you not at least compensate us for the huge colossal hassle, let alone the fact that we have two damp rooms, one of which I do not feel we can use all of.


In Summary:

 

  • Our rental started leaking a week and a half ago, across our main bedroom (making it unlivable) as well as through the floor in my office.
  • Our property agent was informed straight away.
  • Moisture specialists have visited and tested our ceiling and a section of the wall in our main bedroom to be saturated with water. This has not been fixed, nor is there any progress in sight.
  • The carpet has been lifted in my office, but the section of floor near the back of the room is past drying out, it has gone to wheetbix.
  • 1 and a half weeks later they *might* of fixed the roof.
  • The problem with water leaking into my office has NOT been fixed.
  • I asked for a rent reduction to $250/week ($100) until the problem is resolved. This was declined.
  • We have been offered a one off rent reduction of $50 to compensate. NOTHING ongoing, even though we have ongoing issues.
  • To top it all off, I have had to hassle every party, multiple times to even get some progress going, not to mention be around to deal with all of these issues. Having to move things our of our room and move around my office to let the carpet air. This has been a huge hassle.



As far as I'm concerned, we had two rooms that weren't up to scratch, one that was not livable and a second that was only partially livable (debatable). I think $50 is a joke considering we pay $350 for a 3 bedroom place and only had 1 fully functioning room. Even if it was just compensation for the 1 week where the roof was gone $50 is still extremely low.

What are your thoughts?



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675 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  # 1006068 15-Mar-2014 11:18
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freitasm: Time for Disputes Tribunal?


Tenancy Tribunal is the go-er here, but I am hoping some one could help me with other avenues first.

I would also like other peoples opinions. Do you a rent reduction to $250/week (from $350) until the problems are fixed was reasonable to ask for?

 
 
 
 


BDFL - Memuneh
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  # 1006070 15-Mar-2014 11:20
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Or that. I never know which one. Not a good service, not what you're renting and they're playing you.

Sometimes there is the need to hit back hard.







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Ultimate Geek
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  # 1006072 15-Mar-2014 11:25
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freitasm: Or that. I never know which one. Not a good service, not what you're renting and they're playing you.

Sometimes there is the need to hit back hard.



I agree

Whops, just edited right when you replied. As I stated above, does the rent reduction of $100 to $250 sound resonable to you, considering the circumstances?

I am biased after all. It's always good to get a few opinions!

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  # 1006118 15-Mar-2014 12:59
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This is interesting - I just moved out of an apartment knowing that there was going to be significant work done sometime this year on a deck. It is going to be quite invasive work. I looked at the new listing and they had put the weekly rent up $10 from what we were paying and I guarantee they wont disclose that work will be done. I think it is wrong.

Are you locked into a contract? If not I would move asap and use the Tenancy Tribunal to speed up the process, infact, they maybe able to get you out of a contract also. I would be hitting back hard.

I always wonder about the rent reduction thing though. The owner may have a mortgage and it's not like that gets reduced.



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Ultimate Geek
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  # 1006137 15-Mar-2014 13:11
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sdav: This is interesting - I just moved out of an apartment knowing that there was going to be significant work done sometime this year on a deck. It is going to be quite invasive work. I looked at the new listing and they had put the weekly rent up $10 from what we were paying and I guarantee they wont disclose that work will be done. I think it is wrong.

Are you locked into a contract? If not I would move asap and use the Tenancy Tribunal to speed up the process, infact, they maybe able to get you out of a contract also. I would be hitting back hard.

I always wonder about the rent reduction thing though. The owner may have a mortgage and it's not like that gets reduced.


We are in a contract, for the rest of the year.

I'm sure we could get out of the contract if we wanted, but the problem is moving is also a HUGE hassle. It takes time to settle into a new place, let along packing, unpacking and moving. It is some thing we would like to go to as a last resort.

The owner may have a mortgage, but that is their decision. If they have stretched themselves thin, that is not our fault/problem. The way I see it is that it has gone past the point of reasonable maintenance and we are paying full price for a broken product.

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  # 1006153 15-Mar-2014 13:22
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ArcticSilver:
sdav: This is interesting - I just moved out of an apartment knowing that there was going to be significant work done sometime this year on a deck. It is going to be quite invasive work. I looked at the new listing and they had put the weekly rent up $10 from what we were paying and I guarantee they wont disclose that work will be done. I think it is wrong.

Are you locked into a contract? If not I would move asap and use the Tenancy Tribunal to speed up the process, infact, they maybe able to get you out of a contract also. I would be hitting back hard.

I always wonder about the rent reduction thing though. The owner may have a mortgage and it's not like that gets reduced.


We are in a contract, for the rest of the year.

I'm sure we could get out of the contract if we wanted, but the problem is moving is also a HUGE hassle. It takes time to settle into a new place, let along packing, unpacking and moving. It is some thing we would like to go to as a last resort.

The owner may have a mortgage, but that is their decision. If they have stretched themselves thin, that is not our fault/problem. The way I see it is that it has gone past the point of reasonable maintenance and we are paying full price for a broken product.


I agree with you on all points! Having just moved it is very stressful. I can only suggest you keep negotiating and perhaps suggest you are thinking about the tenancy tribunal? Hardly think they want to go through all that.

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  # 1006226 15-Mar-2014 14:43
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I have no expertise in this area but all your points seem to be perfectly reasonable to me. On the face of it, they are taking advantage in a big way.

Baby Get Shaky!
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  # 1006233 15-Mar-2014 14:54
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sdav: This is interesting - I just moved out of an apartment knowing that there was going to be significant work done sometime this year on a deck. It is going to be quite invasive work. I looked at the new listing and they had put the weekly rent up $10 from what we were paying and I guarantee they wont disclose that work will be done. I think it is wrong.

Are you locked into a contract? If not I would move asap and use the Tenancy Tribunal to speed up the process, infact, they maybe able to get you out of a contract also. I would be hitting back hard.

I always wonder about the rent reduction thing though. The owner may have a mortgage and it's not like that gets reduced.


Ignoring the annoyance of physically moving houses there's the whole housing shortage* issue that Christchurch is facing at the moment... Chances are any place the OP managed to find in a short period of time would be in a similar or worse condition.

As above, this issue is the realm of DBH/Tenancy Tribunal. See the DBH page on sorting out problems in the first instance. Your next step would be mediation with the help of DBH before going to the Tenancy Tribunal. Your rights and obligations are listed clearly on their site.

*Depending on whose appearing in the media on any given day

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  # 1006315 15-Mar-2014 18:04
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Send them a 14 day notice to remedy http://www.dbh.govt.nz/tenancy-pub-sorting-out-problems



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Ultimate Geek
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  # 1006596 16-Mar-2014 10:27
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Thanks for the thoughts so far!

Looks like I was right, the builder hasn't fixed it. We're leaking from the roof again.

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  # 1006598 16-Mar-2014 10:35
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you don't have to pay rent if it's not in a liveable condition I think.

question is - what is not a liveable condition




Swype on iOS is detrimental to accurate typing. Apologies in advance.




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  # 1006600 16-Mar-2014 10:38
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joker97: you don't have to pay rent if it's not in a liveable condition I think.

question is - what is not a liveable condition


It could be argued that 1 room is, as well as the rest of the place downstairs (lounge and kitchen). But that is 1 out of 3 rooms.

2 are at a stretch livable, but that would mean sleeping in a room with a wet floor in the corner and dismantling my office completely just to fit a mattress in. Not a option really.

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  # 1007712 17-Mar-2014 21:52
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Don't "stop paying the rent". The landlord has breached the tenancy agreement by not quickly carrying out repairs. If you stop paying the rent (or pay a lesser amount without the landlord agreeing to it) you will also be breaching the agreement.


Just send a 14 day notice as per the link in my previous post.

The owner probably hasn't given authorisation to the property manager to carry out full repairs. Supposedly some management contracts contain a clause which allows the property manager to carry out repairs even if not authorised by the owner. If a valid 14 day notice is served on property manager.

Upon receipt of the notice, if the management company has any sense they will either just get the repairs done. Or if the owner still won't budge, they will resign as managers of that property. Which will mean that you will only be dealing with the owner directly.

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  # 1007740 17-Mar-2014 22:47
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Personally I would stop paying, but put the payments aside so you can pay in a lump sum once it has been resolved.

- Send a 14 day notice to remedy
- State the total amount of damage to clothes, furniture and belongings and subtract a one off total from the rent. Eg. If you lost $300 of clothing because it was leaking through a closet, then delay payments until you have credited yourself the correct amount to offset the damage. A customer of mine was telling me last week he ended up having to bill the landlord when their pump broke and brown water went into the washing machine and household plumbing and damaged a load of washing.
- State that if the issues are resolved within 14 days, the outstanding full amount of rent will be paid in a lump sum
- If they require more than 14 days to remedy from the date of the notice, they will need to reduce the rent to an acceptable level (thats acceptable to you)
- You will not resume any payments until the situation has been remedied and that they will be paid in full if resolved within 14 days (so you give them an opportunity to call you a nice person) and at this point, the payments may be delayed further to offset damage to clothing, furniture and belongings.


A suggested acceptable level, if it takes longer than 14 days in my opinion would be
 - Measure up the square metres you can no longer occupy or place furniture
 - Take this as a percentage of the total house floor space and reduce the rent by the same percentage
 - If a room such as a bedroom cannot be occupied because too much of the floor is damage, or you cannot move around in the room, take the whole room size as lost square metres, rather than just the portion.
 - Payments will still be delayed until you have credited your bond back, and if not resolved in 30 days you will be moving out. If resolved within 30 days, the bond will be repaid to them in full.


Two things you will want to have for the tennancy tribunal if it reaches that point
- Make sure you get lots of photos and video clips showing soggy carpet.
- Keep the cash so you can say you are acting in good faith, and in a reasonable manor so you can pay it in a lump sum if they resolve it within the 14 or 30 day timeframe, or if you loose your tribunal case. Ensure you can show bank statements showing you are transferring the correct amounts into a secondary account to prove that you are keeping the money aside for them. 




Ray Taylor
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