Landlords can be liable for tenant damages.

shutterstock_180502271The recent court ruling under the Osaki case outlined that tenants are immune from a claim by the landlord for damages to a property caused intentionally or carelessly by a tenant or the tenants guest.

The Osaki case is about the Osaki family who left oil on the stove which caused their rented house to burn down. The landlords successfully claimed insurance to cover the $216,000 cost of repairs. The landlords insurance company then took the Osaki family to court to claim liability, and were not successful.

This is a very important change in case law, as it has affected how the tenancy tribunal look at tenant damages. Basically every time I claim damages from a tenant, I need to also provide the landlords insurance policy and schedule. If the said damage is covered by the landlords insurance, then the tenant will not have to pay it. Even the insurance excess payment will be payable by the owner. This includes damages to chattels and building, like holes in walls, carpet stains, damaged kitchen benches and curtains. Things like cleaning and rubbish removal will still be chargeable to the tenants to a fair and reasonable level.

My personal take on this is that its now better to rent rather then living in your own house. So if you burn it down by mistake, its not your problem. These changes will require landlords to be more aware of the rules around rental properties. Also property manages will need to continuously up-skill and stay informed.





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