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September 17, 2007 | by  | in Opinion |
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How To Get Even

I don’t know who first said “Revenge is a dish best served cold”, but so it is when you need your landlord to pull their finger out of their arse and actually fix something around your place.

Like I said last time, things which MUST be fixed urgently are blocked toilets, no hot water and anything which compromises your safety or health, like a live power point or rotten stairs that your foot goes through.

If your oven has turned its toes up or you don’t have any fresh water, these are others for the list. That actually happened to me years ago when we rented a cottage down the end of South Karori Rd. We were on tank water, it hadn’t rained for a while and, believe it or not, we didn’t have any. The old bugger who owned the place decided that he would put a pump in the Karori Stream and pump water up to our place – I kid you not (We used to call him ‘Mr Wheeze’, as he had terrible emphysema, but he clearly deserved it!).

In such cases you are well within your rights to remedy the problem yourself if the landlord has not come to the party with a proper solution within a couple of days. You need to contact the plumber/glazier/sparky etc, and pay them yourself. But the good part is, you can then deduct it from your rent. Normally, I would say that not paying your rent is a mortal sin (as opposed to a venial sin for all you Catholics out there), but in this case the landlord should have done the fixing and footed the bill. The exception to this is if you tried to fix the problem yourself and f*cked it up, or hacked off the banisters in your attempt to murder your flatmate for eating your organic yoghurt.

Things which need fixing at some stage but are not that urgent are a different story. If you still have the use of all the essential services, but the remedy needed is more of an inconvenience, you may be waiting for a long time, unless of course you know what I am about to tell you…

Ready?

OK, if your washing machine has stopped working, you discover a rat hole in the corner of the kitchen, you have a leak in the roof which you have to put a bucket under when it rains or you start to see cockroaches kipping around the plughole in the bath, (believe me, it’s worse if you get out of bed and stand on one….yech!) this is what you do.

Step 1 – Ring the landlord and tell him what’s up. Ask as nicely as you can when he can have it fixed. If he promises to fix it ‘soon’, but nothing happens for days… or weeks…or months…

Step 2 – Inform the landlord of the problem in writing in your best groveling polite way. Be as specific as you can as to what you think the cause and the remedy are. Wait for about a week or so. If you hear nothing, which is quite likely, try…

Step 3 – Send him a slightly less sickening letter about the problem, reminding him that you first contacted him about the problem on whatever day, and attach a copy of the first letter you wrote as well. By now you will be getting tetchy, but try to wait another week, unless you have run out of clean undies. If there is still no reply, go to Step 4.

Step 4 – send the landlord the famous “10 Day Letter”. This letter is a legal document, asking your landlord to fix the problem you have detailed within the next ten working days, or you will apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for a ‘work order’ or to leave the place. Landlords hate getting these, because it is all legal and above board, and they cannot say no, unless the problem is not really a rental problem (like your phone being cut off). A template for this is available at the Tenancy Services website link: http://www.dbh.govt.nz/UserFiles/File/Publications/Tenancy/txt/landlord-breach-of-responsibilities.rtf

Stuff like wallpaper coming off the walls, paint coming off the ceiling or truly grotesque carpets may never get fixed if your landlord pays for it.

For these sorts of things you may have to offer to paint the offending room if the landlord pays for the paint. A small majority will probably agree to this provided you are not a total butterfingers because then they don’t have to pay a painter at a later date, but don’t hold your breath….

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  1. Emma says:

    I enjoy reading your column every week, thanks for sharing your flatting pain

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