A question from Shealy (paraphrased here to suit the format) :
I self-manage my tenancy. My property sprung a leak following a storm in late March this year. Understandably, my tenants were not happy. I agreed to a 10 week rent reduction in the form of a refund ($500 in total) but the tenants have asked for a permanent reduction of rent until the tenancy expires in November as otherwise, they will apply to the Tenancy Tribunal. What should I do?
It reads like both you and your tenants are going through a difficult situation. We are sorry for that.
The short answer to your question is to act reasonably, promptly and in accordance with the Residential Tenancies Act. We do not purport to be arbiters of tenancy disputes (the Tenancy Tribunal is), and it is not our place to be drawn into the specifics of this dispute. Ultimately, it is up to the disputing parties to refer the matter to the Tenancy Tribunal and cede to its orders.
While we certainly can’t guarantee any outcome, we think there are a few things you can do now, as the landlord, to resolve the issue with your tenants amicably or, at the very least, increase the chance of a favourable Tribunal adjudication:
- Repair the roof and address other water tightness issues promptly (this should have been done back in March/early April);
- Make a genuine attempt the resolve the issue amicably. Listen to the tenants. Understand why they think they should be entitled to a permanent rent reduction. Address/attempt to address any reasonable cause for reduction they raise;
- Document all the communications, including any agreed resolution(s);
- Keep your property inspection up to date. Go through your tenancy records to ensure that the tenancy complies with various requirements under the RTA;
- Keep your tenant in the loop about any existing and upcoming remedial work/scheduled maintenance;
- Think twice (three, four, five times even!) before you seek (early) termination, especially if yours is a periodic tenancy;
- Consider getting support, run mock hearings as well as counterclaims if an application is made against you;
- Get legal advice; and
- Going forward, consider professional property management services if you are distressed from dealing with tenancy disputes or do not have good systems in place to manage your tenancies effectively.
We wish you all the best!