Damage to kitchen benchtop


I was wondering if anyone could advise me on the following situation, please.
My tenant has burnt a section of the kitchen laminex benchtop (the size of a saucepan), of which she has agreed to pay and have repaired. Originally we tried to make an insurance claim but this was knocked back because it was a scorch and not done by a flame.
Now my property manager has suggested that we accept monetary compensation and not have it repaired because of the high cost of $440. Her argument is that it is only a small area, and it is unfair to the tenant to have to bear the cost of replacing the laminex section to the next join. My argument is, why should we be left with a damaged benchtop (the property is 18 months old) which eventually will need to be repaired and only get part compensation. Our PM feels that if our tenant has to pay for the full cost, then it would not hold up at the Tribunal. Is this correct? Surely if something is damaged then the tenant has to pay for the full cost of repair?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

You will obviously have a few options here, but just one that MAY be of interest depending where the scorch mark is situated and how your other options pan out.......

Tenant is happy to pay $100-200. Great....take it and buy yourself a nice decorative tile or cutting board for $10-20 to fix over the scorch mark. A decent cutting surface is often handy anyway and if the area got scorched once it may well happen again. Who knows it may even jazz up the kitchen a little and be a bonus? Hang the expense, buy a nice $25 one!

You may feel in some ways you got the rough end of the pineapple but the $200 - $20 = $180 will definitely help you sleep somewhat better at night.

Hi Corfu.

Firstly, it would be very helpful if you could fill in location in your user profile, as laws vary from state to state (A state will do, it doesn't have to be exact!) :)

Now, your problem:

The tenant is normally allowed "Fair wear and tear", this would, IMHO NOT be fair wear and tear.

However, your tenant has admitted to damaging the property, and offered to pay. Why is your PM trying to talk them out of it, or talk you our of accepting it? Who, exactly, are they working for?

If the property is only 18 months old I would definately have it repaired. This will have a severely detrimental effect on future values, both rental and sale.

My suggestion is for you to tell the property manager to have the tenant fund the entire repair, and that you will take your chances with the tenant going to tribunal. I would suggest that the PM doesn't want to go to the tribunal either. (I assume here that you will not be charged extra for tribunal appearances).

Then I would look for a new PM.

The ONLY way I would leave it there is if your tenant is otherwise FANTASTIC and on a long lease, with a high rent, then maybe.

In the end it is your decision. I am sure JoannaK will also have ideas, I may be totally wrong. ;)

Let us know how it goes!

hope this helps...

asy :D
I would find the most economical way of repairing it - but the tenant should pay the whole lot. A scorch or burn mark IMHO does not include negligence.

You're property manager sounds lazy (sorry to be so blunt). They are working for YOU not the tenant.
G'Day Corfu and all,

If it were me posting this thread, the terminology I would be using would be..............."...my EX Property Manager said..........."

An Alternative

Could this be claimed under your landlord's insurance for toxic tenants?

Assunming of course that the tenant would be willing to fund any excess and residual effect on premium rises as a result of losing a no-claim bonus. This may be a workable solution for all concerned.
Thank you everyone for your very helpful replies. I also could not understand why the PM was suggesting such an option. I'm not asking for a full bench to be replaced, only up to the join, which is reasonable.
As for dumping the PM, I can honestly say this company has been fantastic until now, but I did get off the phone yesterday after our conversation very hot under the collar.
The tenant is a long term tenant, who pays her rent early and maintains the property in a meticulous way. It was an accident, and she was most devasted. However, I do not intend to be out of pocket for her accident, which I'm sure she fully understands. I have stated this most adamantly to my PM.
I did need to know my rights as a landlord and find out if I was wrong in expecting her to pay the full repairs.
Thank you to all for confirming that I do have some rights and I will definitely hold firm over this one!

Asy, I will amend my profile to include my location.

Many thanks

Hmmm....this episode reminds me of an incident with one of my properties. It was bought new and after the first tenancy was over and the place vacant I did my own inspection and one thing I noticed was a large ding in the garage rollerdoor. When I raised it with the PM her answer was she considered it to be "wear and tear". However, the issue came up again when the second tenants were going and by now I had a new PM and she wanted to make the tenants pay for it thinking that they did the damage. The tenants tried to tell her that the damage wasn't done by them. I had to step in and explain that that the damage was done by the previous tenants who accidently backed into it with their car. The new PM was surprised that the previous PM held the view that the accident was "fair wear and tear".

Does anybody know what the tribunals definition of "fair wear and tear" is?

The term "reasonable fair wear and tear" is very difficult to define, and as such, you really do take a chance at the tribunal.

This is why it is so extremely important to make sure that very good records are kept. Good records will include:

the ingoing condition report
the outgoind condition report
copys of the periodic inspection reports (which is why it is so important to do these!!)
receipts for items being replaced/repaired
if possible, documents stating the age of the item in question (this is taken into consideration when applying the reasonable fair wear and tear)
I used to get independant "opinions" from people in relevant industries about the item in question, ie, "the carpet is approx. 2 years old and in my opinoin, the damage was caused by XYZ

In most cases a pm will tell the landlord it's wear and tear out of laziness, and nothing else.
As a lateral thought - is they are a good long term tenant, why not have her pay a portion of the money up-front and try get her to agree to an adjusted rent to pay off the repair? Also on the understanding that if she leaves prematurely she agrees for the balance to be taken from her bond.

(Of course, don't know whether this can be done, or not).