What is the Tenancy Tribunal’s view on claiming damages from the tenant?

The standard process the Tenancy’s Tribunal will follow when a landlord wants to claim for damages caused by the tenant will be as follows:

  1. First, the landlord must provide convincing evidence that the damage caused by the tenant is more than general wear and tear.
  2. If the Tenancy Tribunal accepts that damage caused by the tenant exceeds general wear and tear, the tenant has the option to defend the case by showing that the damage was not intentionally caused by the tenant. In other words, the tenant can provide evidence that the damage was caused by carelessness.
  3. If the Tenancy Tribunal accepts that carelessness caused the damage and the landlord’s insurance covers the damage, the Tenancy Tribunal will dismiss the case on the grounds that the landlord’s insurance covers it. The landlord cannot ask the tenant to pay for the excess.
  4. However, if the landlord can provide convincing evidence, that the damage was wilfully and intentionally caused by the tenant, then the Tenancy Tribunal can award the landlord damages and ask the tenant to cover the cost of the repairs. The amount will be based on the Tribunal’s judgment. If the damage is intentional, the tenant won’t have the benefit of the landlord’s insurance.

The above was affirmed in a 2016 court case that went all the way to the court of appeal in 2016: Holler & Rouse v Osaki [2016] NZCA 130

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