Claiming valuable items?
Question from Jacqueline updated on 9th July 2014:
My property manager pulled out of the contract after I discovered antique furniture missing at the house, he had not taken photos of valuable items or included them in inventory. He has been stalling about admitting liability and taking the tenant to the Tenancy Tribunal. He refused to give referee details so the police or I could visit the tenant (who presumably felt free to take the items as not on an inventory). We have asked for the value of the items to be repaid by his company and the reply is that we didn't give an inventory at the beginning. He was negligent in several other areas too. Is it a simple Dispute Tribunal matter?
Our expert Leanne MacKenzie responded:
It would pay to check your home insurance policy as some include (or can be extended to include) landlord’s contents. This type of cover is generally limited to items such as whiteware, fixtures and fittings (like curtains, drapes and light fittings), although depending on the insurer, may also include landlord’s furniture. You would then need to check that the policy included cover for theft by the tenant. If insurance was in place you should make a claim with the insurer for the loss. If accepted the insurer may then seek recovery against the tenant or the property manager.
It appears your property manager has let you down further by now refusing to cooperate to help recover the furniture. As they were acting as your agent I would have thought they have a duty to assist in recovery and potentially may have some liability if the furniture can’t be recovered. The only other alternative is to lodge an application for a Disputes Tribunal hearing however the amount you are claiming needs to be less than $15,000 (or $20,000 if both parties agree). You can find helpful information at www.justice.govt.nz running through everything from how to lodge a claim to how the hearing process works.