Tenant damage claims
Question from Megan updated on 1st December 2016:
My tenant has moved out and left the carpet very dirty. On top of that, it is covered in cigarette burns. It needs to be replaced. The tenant has also broken every single blind in the house.
The tenancy adjudicator has asked me to provide my insurance details for the Tenancy Tribunal hearing where I will seek the damages from the tenant. I suspect the adjudicator is looking to use the Osaki decision to allow the tenant to walk away from my claim.
My policy is a standard policy with excess on each claim but my insurer tells me that each room is a claim. Owing to that excess and each damage item being a new claim I can not economically claim repairs from my insurance. The total damage is in excess of $3,000 but each event is not more than the excess.
I noted that the Osaki decision is about a peril - a house fire. But can cigarette burns and broken blinds be a peril? Can I claim?
Our expert Myles Noble responded:
Thank you for your question and I am sorry to hear of the situation your tenant has put you in. You are correct that the referee at the Tenancy Tribunal is likely to follow the Holler vs Osaki decision and not allow recovery from the tenant.
In terms of response under your insurance cover you may seek to have the claim considered under malicious damage and you should also raise the argument that the various damage occurred on one occasion (such as during a party) if this can be substantiated.
Failing this I would advise you to try to negotiate the application of minimal excesses with your Insurer.Myles Noble is head of claims and earthquake response for Crombie Lockwood. He also holds various advisory board positions in the insurance industry.