Ripped wallpaper

Question from Jen updated on 30th March 2012:

Before we moved into our rental house, the previous tenants had ripped up a lot of the wallpaper. Now we have decided to move on and our landlord is saying it is our fault that the wallpaper is ripped. Can we get out of this without paying anything seeing it's not our damage? Earlier in the year, the landlord got us to sign a piece of paper to say the damage was there previously as he was trying to take the previous tenants to court, would we be able to use this?

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

Tenants are responsible for any damage caused carelessly or intentionally by them or their invited guests. Where damage to the premises is present at the start of the tenancy, it is recommended that this is noted on the initial property inspection report to avoid any discrepancy over responsibility at the end of the tenancy. If the damage was not recorded on your property inspection report but you or the landlord have documentation verifying that the damage was already present, you should bring this to the landlord’s attention. If you are unable to reach an agreement with the landlord over who is responsible for the damage, you could make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. To discuss your situation further, or for information about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can visit the Department of Building and Housing’s website (www.dbh.govt.nz), or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262)

The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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