Definition of Accidental Damage

If something gets damaged in a rental property, or needs repairing, it’s important to know who is responsible for fixing and paying for the problem.

Under section 49B of the Residential Tenancies ACT (RTA), a tenant is only liable for the full cost of the damage to the premises if they intentionally caused the damage, or if the damage was the result of an act or omission constituting an imprisonable offence of the tenant or a person whose actions the tenant is responsible for.

What does this mean?

Intentional Damage
If a tenant (or their invited quests) intentionally damages the Landlord’s property, the tenant must tell the landlord or their property manager. The Landlord can ask the tenant to repair the damage, or to pay the cost of replacement or repair.

Careless Damage
If tenants or their guests carelessly damage a rental property, they are liable for the cost of the damage up to four weeks’ rent or the Landlord’s insurance excess (if applicable), whichever is lower. Landlords can’t ask for or accept more than that limit.

If any damage occurs, it is for the Landlord or Property Manager to prove that the damage is not fair wear and tear. Following this, the tenant must prove that the damage was either:

• Careless (and not intentional), or
• Neither careless nor intentional

If the damage is neither careless nor intentional, the tenant is not liable.

For example: A crack to an internal door caused by a tenant who has a tendancy of slamming doors during arguments is likely to be determind as a careless act that is likely to cause damage and be liable to the lesser of the insurance sum to fix the door or four weeks rent. However, a hole dug out through the middle of an internal door by any instrument is intentional and the tenant will likely be liable for the entire cost of the damages.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our Business Development Manager, Janet to find out more.