‘Common sense’ prevails in tenant v insured landlord court ruling

Uncertainty still remains around the rights of insured landlords with negligent tenants

‘Common sense’ prevails in tenant v insured landlord court ruling

Insurance News

By Mina Martin

Brokers with landlords among their clients can now reassure them that the legal scales have tipped slightly back their way in the light of a district court decision last week.

The balance of power has swung away from landlords following the controversial Osaki ruling last year which meant tenants were not liable to repay their landlord’s insurer for cases of accidental damage, even if the damage was caused by negligence.

Manawatu landlord David Russ won the appeal he filed to the Palmerston North District Court in September last year against a Tenancy Tribunal decision that freed his tenant of liability for the carpet damage in his rental property, Fairfax Media reported.

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The court overturned a decision that tenant Amanda Stewart was not liable for the $3,000 worth of damage caused by her dogs urinating throughout the Foxton house, despite there being a “no pets” policy on her tenancy agreement.

Judge David Smith determined the damage to the Foxton home was not unintentional, for not only did Stewart breach the “no dog” clause in her tenancy agreement, she also let her dogs around the house after perhaps a couple of accidents.

Stewart was ordered to pay around $3,790 in carpet replacement costs, court costs, and lost rent, Fairfax said.

Russ said he was “pretty happy” by the decision and that “common sense has prevailed” in the case. “People have to be responsible for their actions,” he added.

Di Harwood, manager of the Tenants Protection Association in Christchurch, echoed Russ’s sentiment, saying: “Ultimately the tenants have a responsibility to look under the Residential Tenancies Act to look after the property that they are renting, and that shows in this.”

Related stories:
Industry reacts to Minister’s Osaki response
Court decision ‘out of step’ with how insurance operates

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