Who is liable for damage caused to carpets?

Joanne Nixon asks:
(updated on Wednesday, July 22nd 2009)

My tenant moves out my rental property on Saturday. There are numerous stains on the carpet, which the tenant claims were caused by her toddler dropping her drinks. It is clear that no attempt has been made to clean the stains at the time they occurred. The carpet was BRAND new when the tenant moved in 8 month ago. I'd put in a condition in her tenancy agreement that she was to get the carpets professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy. The tenant assures me she will get them cleaned, but I'm pretty sure that several of the stains will not come out. What rights do I have in regard to compensation and claiming the bond. Am I able to claim for NEW carpet in the two affected rooms? Or will my compensation be limited to a depreciation percentage claim only? I'm managing the property myself, and at this stage I am hoping the tenant and I can come to an agreement without needing to go to the tenancy tribunal, but I need advice re what is industry standard in cases like this please.

Our Experts Answer:

Tenants are liable for damage they or their invited guests cause, whether the damage is deliberate or not, and they are also responsible for ensuring they leave the property (including carpets) in a reasonably clean and tidy condition at the end of the tenancy.

How much compensation the landlord receives is likely to depend on the extent and cause of the damage. Fair wear and tear is to be expected, and tenants are not responsible for improving the premises, so depreciation is usually taken into consideration when the amount of compensation is being determined.

I suggest speaking to your tenant to see whether you can reach an agreement about how any damage will be repaired, and who will cover the cost. If you and your tenant can’t reach an agreement about the carpet and the bond, you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved.

To discuss your situation further, or for advice about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can contact the Department of Building and Housing on 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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