Tenancy Tribunal makes a move in the right direction for property damage claims

Last week I was successful in winning a case brought to the Tenancy Tribunal where, among other things, the carpet and curtains in a room of the rental property were damaged by the five cats that were kept closed in the room.

The outcome has been seen as a small win for landlords nationwide who are experiencing the impacts of the Osaki case, which demonstrates that landlords who are insured will be required to cover the cost of damage caused by tenants if it can be proved that the damage was unintentional.

Recently a case in Foxton, where a tenant’s dog had soiled the carpets to an uncleanable state, the Tribunal did not conclude that the tenant intentionally caused the damage. This resulted in the landlord covering the cost to replace the damaged carpets – a cost which amounted to insurance claims of over $25,000.

I took my case to the Tenancy Tribunal for damages against the tenant for not leaving the room in a ‘reasonably clean condition’ after the tenant left the premises. Having followed recent Tribunal cases I was not sure it would go in my favour.

However having presented the case appropriately and accurately the adjudicator established that the tenant had ‘made decisions about the use of the room where her actions would clearly lead to damage to the carpet and curtains,’ and concluded that ‘her actions [were] intentional and therefore [found] her liable for the damage.’

I believe that his win for my client is a good step in the right direction for the Tribunal and will help other property managers and landlords win Tribunal decisions in cases of proving intent.

I feel like we were fighting an uphill battle with the Tribunal. The precedent set by the Osaki and Foxton cases was bad news for landlords – you could just see the insurance premiums rising, but now with this small win I hope other landlords will not let ‘Osaki’ stop them in their tracks.

Last night I put the notice about this Tribunal win on the national Property Talk forum and had an overwhelming response from other property managers keen to get there hands on the case.

For more information email me at keith@niceplace.co.nz

Nick Phillips