Should I charge tenants for damage to property?

Question from Wyman Inch updated on 20th May 2008:

My property has sold and the tenants are currently looking for another place to rent. However they have marked the kitchen bench with a hot pot, and the walls have several scuff marks.
Do I charge them even though the place has sold as is, or ask them to fix?

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

Whether a landlord can require the tenant to repair damage, or to compensate the landlord for the damage, is likely to depend on when the damage occurred, and the terms of the sale and purchase agreement. If the landlord has suffered financial loss as a result of the damage (for example, the house has sold for less than it would have had the damage not existed), or if the new owner is expecting the damage to be repaired as part of the sale and purchase agreement, then the landlord may be able to ask the tenant for compensation or to repair the damage. I recommend that you also seek legal advice, either from your lawyer or from a Community Law Centre, about your obligations to the purchaser about the condition of the property.

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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