Tenancy law change on damage claims being considered

Oct 17, 2016 | News

“This review has been prompted by recent court decisions and Tenancy Tribunal rulings, which have sparked confusion over how the Residential Tenancy Act (1986) and the Property Law Act (2007) interact. This is resulting in uncertainty for landlords and tenants, and is affecting the effective functioning of the Tenancy Tribunal.

“The issue is tenant damage to a property through carelessness or negligence. The latest court rulings mean landlords cannot recover the costs of this damage where they have insurance, including for their costs such as the excess. The problem with this approach is that it reduces the incentive for tenants to take good care of the property they rent. It also reduces the landlord’s incentive to have insurance as it lessens tenants’ responsibilities.

“My concern about this new interpretation is that it will add to the overall costs of the residential sector, driving up insurance costs and rents. However, we do not wish to return to the situation where tenants may be sued by their landlord’s insurance company for hundreds of thousands of dollars, such as with an accidental house fire.

“The proposal I am considering is that tenants would be liable for damage caused by carelessness or negligence up to the value of their landlord’s insurance excess but not exceeding four weeks’ rent, which is aligned with the standard tenancy bond. A different amount could be mutually agreed if specifically provided for in the tenancy agreement and would enable the tenant, if they wished, to take out their own insurance.

Read more here.

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