Damage caused to a residential property by a tenant or lodger is no trivial matter and can sometimes be very costly, time-consuming, and simply a challenging exercise to resolve, given that both parties are usually at complete opposite ends. It is often the case that neither party is simply happy to admit liability for the damage and absorb the cost of repairs or replacement.
Residential property damage comes in various forms and generally it is required by the property owner, landlord or property manager, to first assess whether the damage was wilfully or intentionally caused by the tenant, lodger or occupant. This can be a very tricky and challenging task for most non-lawyers and if you are in Western Australia, it is recommended to first speak to a Perth lawyer.
Understanding whether the damage caused to the residential property was intentional is important as it will establish at least at the initial stages, who is likely the responsible party for the damage, and ultimately who should be responsible to pay the bill for repairs or replacement.
Once you have understood whether the damage to the residential property was intentionally caused, it then becomes the exercise of how do you get the responsible tenant, lodger or occupant to pay for the cost of repairs or replacement.
What to do when there is wilful damage to residential property in Perth (in a general sense)
The first step when there is wilful residential property damage in Perth would be for the owner, landlord or property manager to assess the extent of the damage caused to residential property. If you are the occupant, do the same.
The second step would be to carefully document the damage to the residential property. Best practices would be to take multiple photographs (using your phone is fine), videos, and exchanging correspondence with the tenant, lodger or occupant via email, text messages advising of the presence of damage at the residential property. This step applies to both occupier and owner/landlord/property manager.
The third step would be to make any demands in relation to the damage caused to the residential property, describing the damage, who was likely at fault, and why the tenant, lodger or occupant is liable for the damage and consequently any repairs or replacement to fix the damage to the residential property. This step is flexible and sometimes the occupier may be the one who brings it to the attention of the owner/landlord/property manager. It really depends on the circumstances.
The fourth step depends on whether the tenant, lodger or occupant residing in the residential property in Perth is amicable to settling things by way of a lump sum payment. If not, you should consider getting legal advice from a Perth lawyer as to your next steps. This step only applies assuming the occupant accepts liability for the damage. This is often not the case.
A few examples of residential property damage and why it can be quite challenging to resolve without a Perth lawyer
Situation 1: There is a residential property in Perth that was leased with some furniture. A young Perth couple who is expecting a baby took up the lease. The residential property has carpeted floors in most areas of the property. Upon inspection, it is found that there are stains on various areas of the carpet.
Issues: who is liable for the damage to the carpet? was it wilful damage? who should pay for the repair or replacement of the carpet? has the placement of the furniture been moved since the occupants moved in?
Situation 2: There is an apartment in Perth and a room was rented to a lodger. Upon inspection, it was found that the lodger had mounted various things on the walls of the room, and he had been smoking in the room. There is no agreement in writing.
Issues: who is liable for the damage to the room? would the entirety of the damage caused to the room be considered wilful damage? who should pay for the various repairs or replacements as necessary to restore the room to its original state?
If you find yourself in a dispute involving damage to a residential property in Perth, it could save you a lot of time and effort if you spoke to a Perth lawyer who practises in the field of dispute resolution. It would be recommended that you spoke to a Perth litigation lawyer.
If you are an owner, landlord or property manager, it is advisable to get legal advice early and at the time you first became aware of the damage to the residential property in Perth. Knowing your legal options if the dispute cannot be resolved amicably will best prepare you for the next step which is ultimately taking legal action in Court.
If you are a tenant, lodger or occupier, it is also advisable to get legal advice early and at the time you first became aware of the damage to the residential property in which you are residing in. It provides peace of mind in the event that there is property damage and an owner, landlord or property manager claims that you wilfully caused damage to their residential property. We understand that there are two sides of the story and your reasons for not being liable for the damage may be justified.
If you would like to discuss a potential Perth residential tenancy dispute involving damage caused to a residential property in Perth or generally in Western Australia, please feel free to reach out to us on (08) 6389 0270 or email us at email@example.com