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April 9, 2018 | by  | in Ask the Advocate Opinion |
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Ask the Advocate

Dear Advocate

I am really worried about whether we can stay in our flat.

We complained about our toilet breaking the other week and a plumber came round to fix it. Our property manager spontaneously visited yesterday to check it had been fixed. The flat was a bit messy at the time as we had some friends over for drinks last night. After her visit the property manager rang us and told us the place was in a disgraceful state, that this was unacceptable, and that we needed to move out. We are really scared. We are embarrassed the flat was messy, but we don’t think it was so bad we need to move out!! Help!

Dear students

Firstly, your property manager should have given you notice before visiting. They need to give you 48 hours before an inspection, and ideally 24 hours before visiting at all. To do otherwise is to disturb your “quiet enjoyment” of the property. I think you should thank her for getting the toilet fixed, but also tell her that you expect her to give correct notice of any visits in the future. Tell her the best way to do this (e.g. is it best for her to text a particular tenant or do you prefer emails to a flat email address?).

Secondly, they can’t ask you to move out because the place is a bit of a mess. Everyone has a messy flat occasionally. This is not a breach of the Residential Tenancies Act. If you were actively damaging the property that would be another matter, but a messy flat is not grounds to terminate your lease! I suspect your property manager is trying it on, or doesn’t understand the law.

In short, you don’t need to move out. I think it is important that you email her and explain how distressed her visit and phone call have made all of you and that you are not intending to move out. You could also ask her who her manager is and contact them about this.  The property manager is definitely in the wrong here.

You can always call Tenancy Services for advice and to check what your rights are (0800 TENANCY).

Or you are welcome to get in touch with me (advocate@vuwsa.org.nz).

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