Incidental carpet damage
Question from Josh updated on 6th November 2014:
I am renting a property in which some carpet damage has occurred. A photo frame has been placed underneath a bed directly on the carpet. Upon removal approximately six months later I discovered mould had developed on both the frame and the carpet and destroyed a patch around the size of an A4 sheet of paper. My contents insurance won't pay claiming I am not liable, they have a mould exclusion clause in the policy anyway. My landlord does not want to claim on his insurance for fear of his excess going up. He now expects me to organise and pay for replacement carpet. The carpet was brand new when we moved in. I take full responsibility and want to cooperate as much as possible but is his request fair? Thank you
Our expert Leanne MacKenzie responded:
Good on you for wanting to cooperate with your landlord and take full responsibility for the carpet damage however from the information given it seems you have not acted negligently. The mould growth and subsequent carpet damage was accidental and most probably not through any fault of your own. There is also a possibility the home has an underground drainage or dampness issue which could have caused the mould to easily grow in that room and under your photo frame. In this instance the landlord’s request for you to pay for the carpet would be unfair as this is an issue with the actual home itself. Relating this back to your contents insurance, this means you are not legally liable for the loss. Your contents insurer is correct and there is no valid claim under the liability section of your policy. It is also unlikely the damage will be covered under your landlord’s home policy as most exclude damage caused by mould, mildew and other micro-organisms. Overall this is not an insurance issue. If the landlord persists in holding you responsible then it may need to be resolved via the Tenancy Tribunal. The landlord will need to prove you were responsible in the legal sense and that your actions caused the damage. From the brief facts this would seem difficult. Before going down this path you may want to consider if this will damage future relations between you and your landlord. It may be easier if you are able to come to an arrangement such as, paying for the carpet to be patched rather than having the room fully replaced. If the carpet was put down recently as mentioned, maybe the landlord has are some spare off-cuts available.Leanne MacKenzie has over 25 years experience in the New Zealand personal property insurance industry. As personal lines manager for Crombie Lockwood she has been instrumental in introducing the important changes that have been made in the sector over the last 12 months. “Every property owner owes it to themselves, as a landlord and a homeowner, to understand the new regime.” Leanne is based in the company’s national office in Auckland.