Slowly degrading house

Question from Garnet updated on 8th March 2013:

I am wondering what to do about tenants who always pay rent on time and are happy where they are but are slowly degrading the house? My property manager is charging them $35 per week less than if the house were well looked after. Long-term tenants are usually a good thing however mine come from overseas and are happy with grass mats covering the carpet and very little cleaning. If they leave then nearly everything inside the house would have to be renewed and repainted. At what point should I do something about this? If I renovate, I wonder how long it’ll take the same thing to happen again.

Our expert Juliet Robinson responded:

It sounds like your tenants have been with you for some years and they have done all that your property manager has required of them in terms of rent payments and housekeeping. If they are immigrants they may not have been made familiar with your requirements regarding levels of cleanliness. You should raise the matter of cleaning with the property manager. How often are inspections carried out? Has the property manager pointed out the tenants’ lack of cleanliness and required them to tidy the house? It’s easily done, as long as a tenant knows what is required of them. Another matter is your comment that the tenants are “slowly degrading” the house. Over the years any property will be “slowly degraded” simply from the fact of it being used. The law has a saying for this: “reasonable wear and tear”. It is only when the wear and tear becomes unreasonable that you can find fault with the tenants. That is where the property manager should be effective, with regular inspections and feedback to both tenant and owner, enforcing a reasonable standard of cleanliness and tidiness.

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