It is important to remember that just because a tenant damages property of the landlord, does not always mean that the landlord is entitled to compensation.
We know what agents hear from their landlords: ‘But those tenants let their kids put texture all over the carpet – they should have to pay for its replacement!’. The fact that the carpet was 20 years old is irrelevant to the landlord.
However, it is not in terms of residential tenancy law. Landlords have to accept the fact that when they rent premises then their fixtures and fittings (and even furniture) will have a life expectancy. We know it is a tough job, however landlords need to be educated about these matters.
In many issues of Snippets (as in this one) we have spoken about Tribunal decisions regarding the life expectancy of carpets. The rule of thumb is that they have an expectancy of 10 years.
Certainly, the landlord can leave the carpets in the premises for as long as he/she likes, however should a situation arise where, say, in the twelfth year those carpets are absolutely destroyed by the tenant.
The landlord will expect you to apply to the Tribunal for an Order against the tenant for replacement of the carpets – after all these tenants were the cause of the carpets no longer being of any use. You will have to tell the landlord that if you applied to the Tribunal, you are under a duty to the Tribunal to tell the Tribunal the age of the carpet, in which case the Tribunal will refuse to make any order for compensation against the tenant.
Do not, under any circumstances, be tempted to mislead the Tribunal or hope that the issue will not arise in the hearing where the Tribunal Member asks about the age of the particular item.
We are aware of a situation where an agent did not disclose the fact that the carpets were over 10 years old to the Tribunal. An order was made for the cost of replacement. The tenant sought a re-hearing and told the Member how old the carpets were. The compensation order was set aside and the Member made some very disparaging remarks to the agent.
Every time that agent now appears in the Tribunal, every item of the claim is now gone over with a fine tooth comb by whoever may be sitting on the Tribunal that day.