October 27, 2021

When accidents happen

As much as we all hope for the best in life, occasionally accidents happen. But what if that accident involves damage to the property you are renting?

Well, as with all things in life, honesty is the best policy, so here’s an insight into what occurs when accidents happen at a rental property.

Your responsibility as a rental occupier

As a rental occupier you are responsible for looking after the property and ensuring it remains in the condition that you entered it in.

That means any damage you (or your guests) cause to the property will need to be rectified. This might be simple if you’ve accidentally broken a window, but more complicated if you inadvertently backed your car into a structural wall.

Regardless of the accident, there’s also a process involved, and depending on the extent of that damage it might involve insurance.

The accidental damage process

If the repair is straightforward (like a broken window) the onus is on the rental occupier to ‘make good’. That means you should contact a suitably qualified tradesperson and have the damage repaired at your own expense.

It pays to bear in mind, fixing the damage should be a priority as the cost of remedying the problem may later be deducted from your bond.

If the damage is more complicated, then you need to ensure your property manager is involved.

So let’s turn to that example of backing your car into a structural wall…

If the damage you cause is likely to result in further ramifications or is set to become extremely costly, you will need to involve the property manager and the rental owner.

At this point, you should explain what happened, how it occurred and work together to determine the best path forward.

If the repairs are extensive, the property owner will likely want a say in the tradespeople used and their landlord and building insurance might also be a factor in determining how those repairs will proceed.

Meanwhile, it’s important to remember, there’s a big difference between undertaking innocuous repairs to minor damage (like a broken light fitting, wall hole or ripped flyscreen) and undertaking major repairs that involve the structural integrity of the building (such as a fire).

What you’re not responsible for

As a rental occupier you are responsible for the damage you cause, but if factors outside your control have played a role, it might be beyond your scope of responsibility.

For example, wall cracks that relate to building age or settlement do not fall under your duty of care, nor does damage resulting from natural disasters like storms, fires, floods, and cyclones.

In this case any repairs will need to be handled by the property manager in conjunction with the property owner.

Insurance, insurance, insurance

Many of us have insurance for the unexpected. For example, a rental property owner will have insurance for the building, while a rental occupier should have contents insurance for all the things inside it.

Then there’s car insurance for accidents that occur as the result of a vehicle.

In the event of an accident at a rental property, one or more of these insurance policies might come into play, depending on how the incident happened and how expensive any repairs might be.

The bottom line

If a rental property has been damaged, the best course of action is to alert the property manager and seek their advice about what to do next. The reality is, accidents do happen, but it’s how they are handled that matters most.

How we can help

Our experienced property managers pride themselves on establishing great relationships with both rental occupiers and owners.

We manage every property as if it were our own and you can learn more about our property management services here.

Alternatively, if you are looking to rent a property, you can view the properties we currently have available here.