Defining “fair wear and tear”
The definition of ‘fair wear & tear’ is often debated between Property Management Companies, Landlords and tenants.
Parkit Management is a Property Management Company specialising in residential management in Auckland.
Fair Wear & Tear
Fair wear and tear refers to the gradual deterioration of things that are used regularly in a property when people live in it, provided they are used normally. The tenant is responsible for any intentional or careless damage.
An example of fair wear and tear would be:
- Where a washing machine wears out from normal use. This is fair wear and tear.
- Carpet getting worn
- Taps and washers in the kitchen, bathroom or laundry wearing out or leaking.
Some examples of what is not normally considered fair wear and tear are:
- Burn marks
- Significant staining on the carpet
- Felt tip, crayon, pen use on walls or doors
- Holes in walls and doors
- Broken windows
The tenant is not responsible for damage as a result of burglaries, natural disasters (e.g. rainstorms, landslides and seismic events), or fair wear and tear.
Responsibility for the cost of damage depends how it occurred.
The Tenants need to tell the Property Manager of any damage or repairs needed as soon as practicable, no matter how it happened or who caused the damage. Failure to notify the Property Manager as soon as possible may result in the Property Manager Company claiming some of the costs of repairing the damage from the tenant if it gets worse due to slow notification from the tenant.
If a tenant (or their invited guests) intentionally damages the property, the tenant must tell the rental Property Manager . The tenant will need to repair the damage, or to pay the cost of repair.
Damage due to Careless act.
Damage resulting from the careless actions of a tenant (that is covered by the landlord’s insurance) will not be payable by the tenant unless it was the result of an imprisonable offence, or the tenants actions voided the insurance.
Regardless of whether the landlord has insurance, tenants are not liable for damage caused by natural events.
If the damage was caused intentionally, or was the result of an imprisonable offence or if the tenant (or their invited guest) caused the insurance cover to be voidable. The tenant is liable to pay for the damage.
Fire, flood or explosion are not required to be catastrophic natural events.
For these events the landlord is also responsible for the insurance excess costs and can not pass these costs on to their tenants.
Property Managers or owners should check the insurance policy documents before discussing compensation for damage with the tenant, as the policy may cover the damage, providing it was not intentional or the result of an imprisonable offence.
If the Property Manager and tenant cannot agree on liability the Property Manager can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for resolution.
If Repairs are Urgent
If repairs are urgently needed and the disrepair is likely to cause injury, a tenant can have repair work done and seek reimbursement. Providing the tenant made reasonable attempts to let the landlord or Property Manager know first.
Landlords and tenants both need insurance.
Landlords should insure their rental property against any damage, either accidental or otherwise.
Tenants can arrange their own insurance to protect their contents and also cover their liability for damage to the landlord’s property.
Landlords need insurance to cover damage.
If you’re a landlord or Property Manager, make sure there is insurance cover for the property and that cover notes it is as a rental property. The premiums are the landlords responsibility.
Often insurers need Property Managers to prove they’ve completed a thorough tenancy selection process with regular inspections of the property before they will accept any damage claims.
If there are any chattels as part of the tenancy (such as washing machine, drier or other furniture) that are listed in the tenancy agreement. Any damage to them won’t be covered by the tenant’s contents insurance.
Tenants should get insurance for their personal belongings and furniture. The landlord’s insurance policy doesn’t protect tenant’s belongings.
A tenant may be liable for any damage caused by invited guests.
If you are a tenant even if you aren’t named on the tenancy agreement, you should consider getting
- contents insurance policy to protect your belongings
- personal liability policy to protect them in certain situations. Advice from Insurance brokers may be worth exploring.
Tenants cannot refuse to pay rent while waiting for the landlord to fix something, but if their living conditions are compromised can try to negotiate a temporary rent reduction with their landlord.