In a recent case a tenant’s dogs had caused damage by urinating throughout a rental property.  The tenancy agreement stated that dogs were not allowed on the property. 

The Tenancy Tribunal had said that the tenant was not liable to rectify the damage because the landlord was insured, and because the damage was unintentional.

Recently the District Court overturned the decision by the Tenancy Tribunal.

The Court took the view that because the tenant had continually allowed the dogs to enter the premises, despite the terms of the tenancy agreement, the damage was intentional.  The tenant would have known that damage was likely to occur to the rental property after the first or second time the dogs urinated inside, and so letting them inside on numerous occasions was a deliberate and intentional act.

The Court also noted that tenants are responsible for damage caused by people who they allow onto the property (such as friends or family), unless the tenant has taken all reasonable steps to prevent them from entering or asked them to leave.  The same approach applies where the dogs have been allowed onto the property by the tenant and cause the damage. 

The tenant was liable to rectify the damage, along with the loss of rent suffered by the landlord during the time that the carpet was being replaced.

This case highlights a number of key consideration for landlords, particularly:

  • The importance of addressing the rules about pets at the beginning of a tenancy;
  • The value of completing regular inspections throughout the duration of the tenancy;
  • The need to make sure that rental properties are adequately insured at all times.
If you are a landlord, and have concerns about your tenant’s behaviour or damage caused to your rental property, you should see your lawyer as soon as possible.