The Tenancy Tribunal has ordered Quinovic Property Management not to market a Wellington house for sale during a fixed-term tenancy.

Consumer member Vivienne Holm rented a house through Quinovic’s Johnsonville office after seeking assurances it wouldn’t be put on the market. Vivienne said Quinovic told her the house wouldn’t be marketed but that changed when she inquired about ending the tenancy early because of a series of problems at the property.

There had been two separate sewage leaks. “One of the leaks resulted in raw sewage seeping into the main bedroom carpet which was very unpleasant!” Vivienne said. The other leak caused sewage to spill out into the carport.

Vivienne called her own plumber to fix the first leak. He discovered the toilet hadn’t been installed properly and there was also a problem with a drain, she told us. In her evidence to the Tribunal, Vivienne said she advised Quinovic that remedial work was needed but nothing was done before the second leak occurred.

Other issues arose including a faulty dishwasher. After delays in getting a replacement part for the machine, Quinovic agreed Vivienne could install her own dishwasher at her cost. Vivienne also had problems with faulty latches on some windows.

When she asked if it might be possible to end the tenancy early, Quinovic replied the owner was now putting the property on the market and would consider an early termination if the house sold. It also indicated the owner wanted to carry out maintenance to prepare the property for sale and would want access for this purpose.

Vivienne pointed out this breached the terms of her tenancy agreement. The Tribunal agreed and made an order that Quinovic wasn’t entitled to market the property during her tenancy. It also ordered the company not to access the property for the purposes of preparing the house for sale. The tribunal didn’t consider any sanction should be imposed on the company in relation to the other matters raised at the hearing.

Quinovic managing director Stuart Robb told us the owner ceased marketing the property before the Tribunal orders. He said the company was sorry the process had caused Vivienne frustration and anguish but believed it had “followed proper processes and dealt with each step in an appropriate manner”. Vivienne has since moved out of the property and her bond has been refunded.

Legal points

The Residential Tenancies Act entitles tenants to “quiet enjoyment” of the property. The landlord must seek the tenant’s consent to show real estate agents or prospective purchasers through the premises. A verbal statement by the landlord or their agent that a property won’t be marketed during the tenancy can form part of the tenancy agreement.