Chattel damage options
Question from Jason updated on 14th July 2017:
A new tenant has just moved into my rental property. Included on the agreement are various chattels – and this question relates to a washing machine. Prior to the tenancy, the property along with all chattels was inspected by myself and then with myself and the tenant present. Everything was in good working order.
One day after the tenancy started, the tenant advised that the door on the washing machine "simply fell apart". After close inspection, it’s clear that it has been forced open when a cycle had started. This has damaged the machine which requires repair. I'm not in a position to claim insurance on it because it is clearly blatant negligence. What are my options?
Our expert Myles Noble responded:
Your question is quite interesting from a number of perspectives. Firstly, would (as per my previous answers on similar landlord vs tenant questions) Holler vs Osaki apply here? Probably not. This is because it is not part of the “premises” as it is a chattel – but I am unaware of any case law or precedents around this.
As you say, you are unable to claim insurance on such an event as there is no known cause despite your suspicions. Regretfully, I do not believe you have any recourse against your tenant unless you can show that the washing machine door was indeed forced open.
Myles Noble is head of claims and earthquake response for Crombie Lockwood. He also holds various advisory board positions in the insurance industry.