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- Notice to Repair
Q: Hi there,

We are writing because we are worried about getting our bond back as our landlord lives overseas and has been bad at paying his bills with contractors and just generally seems dodgy.

Before we moved in in February we said we would be moving in October so wouldn't be able to sign a 12 month lease. We were confident that this was the terms and as the landlord was away he had a contractor doing the lease agreement who said he had informed our landlord. When we got the lease to sign it said 12 months, and as we couldn't commit to this the contractor said to change it to 9 months 'as per verbal agreement', which we did. We gave the lease to the contractor who said he would give us a copy.

After weeks of asking for a copy of the lease we never received one. The landlord wanted us to sign one stating that we had to find new tenants when we moved out, but this was never given to us. We were happy to show people through the house for him but wanted it in writing.

This is only the beginning. The contractor wanted to retile the shower and told us it would take four days, which suited us because we were going away. Six weeks later the work was still not completed. For one week we had no shower and had to take 'bird-baths', for four weeks we had plastic around the walls of the shower which was slippery and unsafe, and finally after finishing the shower the contractor begun to install an exhust fan in the bathroom and left a massive hole in the roof and played with some of the electrical wiring (which he is not qualified to do) and now the lights in the hallway and laundry don't work and haven't since April.

We informed our landlord of many of the shortfalls in the work that the contractor did, but this was not well received by the landlord and he is only now, over four months later, fixing up the work that the original contractor left unfinished.

The oven smells like gas which isn't safe, the electrical wiring isn't to code and the smoke detector isn't hard wired or have c02 detection. We are wondering what is our best option to ensure we get our bond back. We have since had another contractor in to fix up some of the jobs who has said he could be a witness of the condition we have kept the suite in as it is obvious we kept it tidy and haven't caused damage.

The main issue here is that our landlord had been happy for us to live in a house that is unsafe and has showed a complete disregard for our safety, privacy and comfortable living in an apartment that he is responsible for maintaining.
A: Your concern is for the return of your 'bond', which I take to mean your security deposit. The legislation directs the landlord must return a security deposit within 15 days of the end of the tenancy, unless it is claimed against or is ordered against by legislative provision or authority. You obviously suspect the landlord will claim against your security deposit with an indication that you may move out before your fixed term tenancy expires. The devil here is in the details. What does the copy of your lease actually say? If you have indeed signed on for a 1 year lease, you are contractually obliged to fulfill your end of the deal, subject to mitigation attempts (legitimately trying to re-rent the joint and which may involve your attempts to find new tenants to take over / and/or the landlord's attempts to re-rent.) Your issues about wiring and bathroom tiles are separate and distinct from the security deposit issue. If you want to pre-empt the landlord's actions with one of your own, and claim for loss of use and enjoyment because of disruptions to water, heat, electricity, etc., you must file with the RTB. If your lease papers say 9 months, rather than the 1 year you may have actually signed on for, then Bob is your mother's brother, and your obligation to pay rent will end on the day and date stipulated on the papers you've signed. If the papers say a different date than the one you are hoping for, then this is the date you are obliged to pay up to. Same diff' with a contract for a hockey player - the dates make all the difference. The signatures on the paperwork stand as proof of what was contracted for.


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