Tenant damages tiles, escapes blame – tribunal

Cleaning ProductsA tenant who damaged delicate slate bathroom tiles by using standard cleaning products was not liable to compensate the landlords because she had not been warned of the need for “special handling”.
In a written decision, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal said the slate tiles at the Yarraville home were porous, fragile, need to be sealed and even then required special treatment.
“While they are visually attractive, they are not practical in a rental property. A tenant should be able to use the rented premises with off-the-shelf cleaning products.
“If a fixture or fitting in a rented premises requires ‘special handling’ or is a surface that can’t be used a certain way, there is an obligation on the landlord to mitigate his loss and draw this to the attention of the tenant by incorporating it into the lease.”
The landlords’ claim of $500 towards the cost of replacing the tiles was refused.
The Tribunal found that although the tenant used the premises to provide tantric massages and allowed clients to use the shower, it was not satisfied that the associated massage oils would have caused the damage to the tiles.
The Executive General Manager of RentCover, Sharon Fox-Slater, said the case drew attention to the need for landlords to seek insurance which covered accidental damage – as the tenant had not intended to damage the tiles – and not just malicious damage.
“Tenants are not necessarily experts in the care of unusual surfaces, and accidents can happen to the best of us,” she said.
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