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Decisions of Interest: Liability for Damaged Walls from 3M Picture Strips

Ever wondered if tenants using picture hanging strips can lead to tenants paying for subsequent damage? This intriguing case delves into the nuances of liability for wall damage and whether such incidents qualify as fair wear and tear.

Case Background:

The tenants rented the property for about three years and used 3M picture hanging strips to display lightweight family photos. Upon removing these strips at the end of their tenancy, they found that patches of paint had come off the wall. The tenants did not dispute the occurrence of this damage.

The landlord claimed that the damage was significant and beyond normal wear and tear. She presented evidence that she had to hire a professional to repair the affected areas, incurring considerable expense

Legal Authorities:

Proving Damage: The landlord must prove the damage occurred during the tenancy and was more than fair wear and tear (Sections 40(2)(a), 41, and 49B RTA).

Careless Damage: If damage is careless and covered by insurance, tenant liability is limited to the insurance excess or four weeks’ rent (Section 49B(3)(a) RTA).

Intentional Damage: Tenants are liable for intentional damage or damage resulting from imprisonable offenses (Section 49B (1) RTA).

Fair Wear and Tear: Damage resulting from reasonable use and duration of the tenancy may be considered fair wear and tear.

Landlord’s Response:

The landlord claimed that the tenants breached the tenancy agreement, which included a specific clause about avoiding significant alterations to the premises.

The clause emphasised that tenants should take reasonable care not to damage the walls when hanging pictures and recommended the use of suitable picture hooks.

The landlord argued that the tenants’ use of picture hanging strips, despite being a well-known brand, still resulted in damage that went beyond normal wear and tear. To support this claim, the landlord presented evidence that a professional had to be hired to repair and repaint the damaged areas, incurring significant costs.

So, what was the outcome? And what are the key takeaways from this case?

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