Tenants to Pay for Rental Damage Following Law Change

September 2, 2019

Tenants to pay for rental damage

In addition to the new insulation standards that came into effect, July 2019 also saw new tenancy legislation passed regarding tenants’ liability for damage caused by careless behaviour. These changes then took affect at the end of August and impact both landlords and tenants, so let’s talk through what’s happened and what actions landlords and tenants each need to take.


When are tenants liable for damage to a rental property?

Tenants who damage their rental property through careless behaviour are now liable to cover the cost of the damage they cause.

Any tenant responsible for damage caused by careless behaviour now has to pay for repairs up to a maximum cost equivalent of four weeks’ rent or their landlord’s insurance excess, whichever amount is lower.


What is required of landlords?

The changes are designed to both protect landlords against costs related to careless damage, and to protect tenants from paying unrealistic amounts to cover damages.

To be protected by the new legislation, landlords must provide insurance details within any new tenancy agreement. The details need to include whether or not the rental property is insured, and if so - what the policy’s excess amount is. 

Landlords failing to meet this requirement, or to notify tenants in writing of any changes to this information within a reasonable amount of time, can face a penalty of up to $500.


What is required of tenants?

Those tenants in existing tenancies can ask their landlord to gather and provide this insurance information, which must be produced within a reasonable timeframe.

Tenants are protected from undue action from insurance companies, who can’t pursue tenants on behalf of a landlord unless the tenant caused the damage intentionally, or it was the result of an action or omission that is equivalent to an imprisonable offence.


Interpreting different causes of rental property damage

The difference between general wear and tear and damage caused be careless behaviour on the tenant’s part is often decided when cases are brought before the Tenancy Tribunal.

It’s here that evidence by way of good photos taken at the start and end of a tenancy are essential for the Tribunal to make an informed and positive assessment of any damage. This is why property managers with Tenancy Tribunal experience are worth their weight in gold.

If you’re a rental property owner and are unsure of your obligations regarding your insurance in the wake of this tenancy legislation change — read more about the amendment here, and please drop us a line if you’d like to talk it over with us. If you’re a tenant and aren’t sure where you stand, or what you should be asking of your existing landlord, we can help there too.  



Trashed shed Burswood Perth’ by perthhdproductions via CC BY 2.0.

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Filed under Information for tenants \ Landlord Information

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