Problems and disputes frequently asked questions
On this page
- What can I do if the landlord or tenant is disturbing the neighbours, my other tenants, or me?
- What can I do if my landlord takes my things?
- When can the landlord come into or onto the property?
- What happens if my flatmate causes damage or owes rent?
- What can I do about a dispute with my flatmate?
1. What can I do if the landlord or tenant is disturbing the neighbours, my other tenants, or me?
A tenant may not unreasonably interfere with the peace, comfort and privacy of neighbours, or their landlord’s other tenants.
A landlord may not unreasonably interfere with the tenant’s peace, comfort or privacy in use of the tenancy. They must also take steps to ensure that none of their tenants unreasonably interfere with the quite enjoyment of any of their other tenants.
Where either the landlord or tenant is in breach of their obligations surrounding quiet enjoyment, they can be issued with a notice to remedy. Where this is not complied with, or the breach is so serious that it would be inequitable for the tenancy to continue, an application may be made to the Tenancy Tribunal to end the tenancy and compensation may also be sought against the party who committed the breach.
It is an unlawful act if a tenant harasses another tenant or neighbour.
It is an unlawful act if a landlord harasses the tenant or permits harassment of the tenant.
The Tenancy Tribunal can award exemplary damages for unlawful acts.
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2. What can I do if my landlord takes my things?
The landlord cannot seize or dispose of the tenant’s goods as security or in payment for rent owing, or for any other reason arising from the tenancy, except:
The tenant may claim stored goods at any time prior to disposal, on payment of reasonable storage and disposal costs.
Where the landlord seizes the tenant’s goods the tenant can recover these from the landlord or may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for their return, or compensation for their loss. Tenants may also seek exemplary damages to be awarded against the landlord.
See abandonment of goods for more information.
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3. When can the landlord come into or onto the property?
The landlord may enter into the property either:
- with the consent of the tenant; ,
- with notice;
- pursuant to a Tenancy Tribunal order; or
- without consent or notice in an emergency.
Landlords do not need to give notice to enter onto the grounds or into facilities. Facilities, in relation to a tenancy agreement (other than a boarding house tenancy agreement) includes all facilities provided by the landlord for the use and enjoyment of the tenant otherwise than as a part of the premises that are the subject of the tenancy agreement. These may include such things as land or buildings for storing or parking motor vehicles, laundry facilities, cooking facilities, lifts and stairways, rubbish storage and disposal facilities, toilet and washing facilities, appliances for heating or cooling the property, communication facilities, recreational areas, lawns, gardens and outhouses.
Although landlords do not need to give notice to enter onto the grounds or into facilities, they do have to avoid unreasonably interfering with the tenant’s peace, comfort and privacy in use of the property.
To inspect a property, the landlord must give at lease 48 hours’ notice. This cannot be given more that 14 days ahead of time. Only one inspection can be done in any period of 4 weeks. Inspections must be conducted between 8 am and 7 pm.
To carry out necessary repairs or maintenance, the landlord needs to tell the tenant the reason for entry and give the tenant at least 24 hours’ notice. Repairs should be done between 8 am and 7 pm.
The landlord needs the prior consent of the tenant to enter the property at any reasonable time to show the property to:
- prospective tenants;
- prospective purchasers;
- a registered valuer who is engaged in the preparation of a report;
- a real estate agent engaged in appraising, evaluating, or selling or otherwise disposing of the premises;
- an expert engaged in appraising or evaluating the premises; or
- a person who is authorised to inspect the premises under any enactment.
The tenant cannot unreasonably refuse consent but may attach reasonable conditions to their consent.
The landlord must not use force or threat of force to enter or attempt to enter the property while the tenant, or any other person with the tenant’s permission, is in the property. A landlord who does this may be liable for a fine or imprisonment.
In the case of a boarding house tenancy, a boarding house landlord may enter the boarding house at any time.
A boarding house landlord may enter a boarding room without notice:
- With the tenants consent freely given at, or immediately before the time of entry (if the room is shared, this means the consent of any tenant of the room)
- if the landlord believes on reasonable grounds that there is an emergency, or that there is serious risk to life or property, and immediate entry is necessary to reduce or eliminate that risk or save life or property
- where entry is necessary to provide services that the landlord and tenant have agreed to, as long as entry is in accordance with the conditions of the agreement or house rules
- in accordance with an order from the Tenancy Tribunal.
A boarding house landlord may enter a boarding room, after giving 24 hours’ written notice to the tenant (or to each tenant if the room is shared):
- to inspect the room, if no entry for that purpose has been made within the last 4 weeks
- to inspect the room, if the landlord believes the tenant has abandoned the rooms, or breached the Act in another way
- to show the room to a prospective tenant or purchaser,
- where entry is necessary to enable the landlord to fulfill their obligations under the Act
- to inspect work the landlord required the tenant to carry out, or the tenant agreed to carry out
- to show the room to a registered valuer, real estate agent or building inspector engaged in the preparation of a report.
When entering a boarding room, the boarding house landlord:
- must not interfere with the tenant’s property, unless it is necessary to achieve the purpose of entry; and
- must do so in a reasonable manner; and
- must not stay in the room longer that is necessary to achieve the purpose of entry
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4. What happens if my flatmate causes damage or owes rent?
All tenants named on a tenancy agreement are jointly and severally liable for the tenancy agreement. This means, if any damage, rent arrears, cleaning or other debt arising from the tenancy is caused by one tenant, that tenant and all of the other tenants who are party to the tenancy agreement can be held accountable. The landlord could recover compensation for any money owed to them by that tenant or from all or any of the other tenants.
Tenants do not have to take out an insurance policy to protect them against damage caused intentionally or carelessly to a landlord’s property, but it may be a sensible precaution. Some contents policies will include personal liability insurance, while others will not. See our information sheet What insurance do I need?
If a tenant is held accountable for a debt incurred by one of their flatmates, they may be able to address this through the Disputes Tribunal. For information about the Disputes Tribunal contact the nearest Citizens Advice Bureau or Community Law Centre
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5. What can I do about a dispute with my flatmate?
The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 covers the relationship between landlords and tenants for residential tenancies that fall within the jurisdiction of the Act. It does not deal with disputes between flatmates.
If there is a dispute between flatmates to a tenancy, you could seek advice from the nearest Citizens Advice Bureaux or Community Law Centre .
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