Accidental, Malicious, Deliberate damage or Wear & Tear – What is the difference?


A common query our Property Managers often hear from Landlords and Tenants is…

“What is accidental damage and how is this different to malicious damage, deliberate damage and/or wear and tear?”

From an insurance perspective, it is defined as per below:

Accidental Damage: An unexpected or sudden loss. This is generally something that is an accident and not planned or intentional. Examples include spills on carpet and damage to furniture.

Malicious Damage: Damage which was motivated by spite, malice or vindictiveness with the intention of causing damage. Examples include holes kicked/punched in walls and doors, graffiti and doors knocked off their hinges. A police report is required for malicious damage claims.

Deliberate Damage: An act that will alter the current state of an item, however, the act is carried out without any spite, malice or vindictiveness. An example is putting picture hooks into walls without
permission. This is not a vindictive act, it is, however, a deliberate action but generally with the intent of making the property more homely.


Wear and Tear: Damage which occurs naturally and inevitably simply because people reside in the property. Wear and tear occurs just as much in an owner-occupied property as it does in a rental
property and may include scuff marks on walls, carpet in walkways appearing worn, small marks on lino etc.


Another area of contention sometimes can be, poor housekeeping. This is where a tenant maintains a property in a poor condition but where no damage has occurred. This can include tenants who do not clean up after themselves, who don’t air their house, who don’t regularly clean areas such as carpets, ovens and bathrooms etc.

Wear and tear and poor housekeeping are not generally covered by an insurance policy, even where a property may be brand new prior to being occupied by tenants. As a Property Manager, you can monitor this during routine inspections and outline to the tenants when they sign the Lease what the expectations of cleanliness, maintaining the property etc are. Ensure that they are aware that any damages or maintenance is reported to your office immediately and that these are rectified in a timely manner.

Landlords should expect fair wear and tear to their property, as would happen in any home that is being lived in.

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