If you own a rental property, it’s important to know what property repairs/damage you are responsible for throughout a tenancy. Residential Property Management General Manager Celia Burbery outlines a few key areas such as fair wear and tear, and tenant damage in order to highlight that property damage responsibility is not always straightforward.
The Residential Tenancies Act and Tenancy Services outline legislation that gives both property owners and tenants rights when it comes to renting property.
If you own a rental property, it’s important to know what property repairs/damage you are responsible for throughout a tenancy.
Property damage is not always straightforward, and it’s expected that tenants report to their Property Manager straight away if something needs to be repaired or maintained.
Below are a few key areas to know regarding property damage and repairs. It’s good to note that tenants are not responsible for repairs or damage arising from natural events (storms, floods, earthquakes) or burglaries.
What is ‘Fair Wear and Tear’?
Fair wear and tear refers to the gradual deterioration of items just from using them – E.g. paintwork getting marked and scratched over time, flooring and carpets wearing out, rubber seals getting old, tap fittings becoming corroded.
If a tenant hasn’t used the item incorrectly, then you can put it down to ‘fair wear and tear’.
Deterioration is an owner’s responsibility and remediation is generally a claimable expense against the taxable income of the property.
What is ‘Tenant Damage’?
Responsibility for fixing damage is dependent on who caused it. Tenant damage has three categories:
Careless Damage is the result of a lack of care or attention by the tenant.
Accidental Damage is the result of an event outside of a tenant’s control.
Intentional Damage is when a tenant or invited guest intentionally damages the property.
The Residential Tenancies Act states that in the first instance the tenant has the benefit of the landlord’s insurance, and the tenant is liable for the insurance excess(s). If insurance doesn’t cover the damage then the tenant is liable for repairs to the value of 4 weeks rent. If the damage is ruled to be intentional then the tenant is liable for the full cost.
Depending on the damage caused, it may be appropriate to claim for repairs through the property/landlord specific insurance.
A Property Manager may organise repairs to a property on an Owner’s behalf however the tenant may be liable to pay the insurance excess or if the damage was intentional, pay the full cost of repair or replacement. It’s also important to note that age becomes a factor for damaged items/chattels for insurance claims and depreciation comes into play when assessing replacement value.
As your property manager, it’s our role to work out how the item will be remediated and whether the tenant will need to reimburse part or all of the cost. If the landlord and the tenant cannot come to an amicable agreement then an application to the Tenancy Tribunal is made for an independent decision.
At times it will be necessary to engage the services of tradespeople to address general repair and maintenance issues at your property such as faulty lights or appliances, leaking taps or toilets. These are ‘must fix’ items that impact the tenancy and use of the property. We support all landlords to ensure repairs and maintenance are done in a timely manner to prevent deterioration of the property, loss of value and to foster good relations with tenants. Small repairs can in some instances prevent major repairs down the track.
You can learn more about damage responsibility via the Tenancy Services website here.
General Manager – Property Management
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