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October 5, 2009 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Stupid people and other tenancy woes

So I made a promise in my last column to discuss the most beloved of all letters. The beloved part is a flat out lie of course, however the letter part isn’t. The ten-day working letter to remedy is something both a tenant and a landlord should be fully aware of before entering a tenancy. If both tenant and landlord know what they are doing and are decent people a ten-working day letter shouldn’t be needed at any point. However we all know the likelihood of this scenario is akin to a celibate catholic priest.

Now the 10 working day letter did not come out of thin air. There is some actual reasoning behind it. That reasoning can be found in the Residential Tenancies Act 1986. Now I understand that I should have pointed to this Act in my first column as it’s the ‘go to’ for any tenancy solutions. I could say that I couldn’t be bothered, but once again I would be lying. Rather I fucking forgot to, just like the rest of the human race I am particularly good at being fucking useless most of the time. Continuing on, this Act provides the rules for tenants and landlords in tenancies, along with all the stuff for the Tenancy Tribunal, tenancy Bonds, etc, etc.

Section 56 of the Act is where the ten working day letter originates. Basically this section states that if there has been a problem with the tenancy and the matter is brought before the Tribunal you need to show that you provided ten working days to the other party to rectify that problem. While this section relates to the termination of a tenancy the Tribunal tends to use the ten working days as a standard for any issue. So if you don’t want to terminate the tenancy you don’t have to give ten working days, but you should use it as a standard as that’s what the Tribunal tends to do.

In other words, you need to be realistic. If some drunken moron decides to dig for buried treasure in your back yard and instead finds some shiny pipes, don’t spend the next morning swimming in the sewage. Give the landlord a reasonable period of time to deal with it (in this case I wouldn’t give any more time than a day), hell if you can pay for it and the landlord refuses, get it fixed yourself and deal with the particulars later. Raw sewage isn’t particularly healthy, and while I would find it amusing if you drowned in your own filth I’m sure your mummy would be upset.

Now the first purpose of this letter is to inform the other party of an issue. You may not want to use a ten working day letter every time an issue arises, especially if the landlord/tenant is a reasonable person. If the issue is small and you know it will be resolved once the other person is aware of it then it may be enough to just flick them an unofficial email. If the issue is large or your landlord/tenant is a wanker then a ten working day letter may be more appropriate.

The second purpose ties in with the first. It’s there to let the Tenancy Tribunal know that you have given the other party sufficient time to resolve the issue. Like I said before, the ten working days relates to the termination of a tenancy but the Tribunal tends to use it as a reasonable period of time for most non-urgent issues. So do what doesn’t come naturally and be smart about it.

You would think working days are easy to understand, but once again humans show their capacity for stupidity and ignorance. Working days don’t include weekends or any of the major holidays; in fact working days are set out in the interpretation section of the Act, nice and simple. The ignorance part is more forgivable, the Act states that you have to allow for service time of documents. Section 136 of the Act deals with this and is rather involved, but the important bits are these—if you hand the letter to the landlord (or tenant as the case may be) it is served immediately, if you leave it at their address an additional two working days must be added and if you mail it an additional 4 working days must be added. Email isn’t included in the Act though it is addressed in the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (more on that later). The Tribunal can recognise email correspondence and probably will especially if it’s specifically included in the tenancy agreement.

For those of you who are stupid or, like me, lazy, the Department of Building and Housing have draft 10 working day letters for all manner of tenancy problems on their website. Any dumbass can print them off and fill in the blanks with ease.

For tenancy information and a copy of a ten working day letter see the Department of Building and Housing website. For tenancy advice you can also call Tenancy Services on 0800 83 62 62. For bond enquiries you can call 0800 73 76 66.

Got a tenancy issue you think I should consider? Flick me an email at

Your not so friendly tenancy guy.


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