Who is responsible for damage to property?

Question from Will updated on 13th November 2007:

I received a call from a tenant telling me that a net curtain on the sliding door to the house is ripped and asking me to replace it. I was wondering if it is my responsibility to replace something that has obviously been ripped by either the tenant or someone they have had visiting? I am thinking of replacing it anyway but I wouldn't mind letting them know for future reference if it is my responsibility. Thanks.

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

Section 40(2)(a) of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 states the tenant is responsible for careless or intentional damage to the property caused by themselves or anyone on the property at their invitation. Section 40(4) of the Act also states that if damage is proved to have occurred during the tenancy, then it will be for the tenant to prove that it is not the result of careless or intentional damage. Therefore, you may wish to advise your tenants that if such damage occurs in future, you will consider it their responsibility to repair unless they can show that the damage was not intentionally or carelessly caused by themselves or their visitors.

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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