Here is a question to the blog clinic from David who is a landlord:
Hi , My tenant has stated that the shower door shattered on its own.
My research….asking shower door manufacturers if its possible…state a shower door will shatter if knocked or slammed heavily or misused.
I believe they are expecting me to be held responsible.
I purchased the shower unit ….Dec 2009 and cost £289.00 and it has stood several tenants without problems. Do I tell them to replace it at their expense?
Well the shower door will hardly have spontaneously shattered without anyone touching it at all.
So the question is, could it have shattered after long use by the sort of contact that would fall within ‘fair wear and tear’ or could it only have shattered by some kind of misuse?
In this sort of claim , if it went to adjudication, the adjudicator would be looking to see whether on the balance of probabilities, it is more likely that the tenants were responsible for the damage or not.
It sounds to me as if the tenants were at fault here.
Partly because of the manufacturers information, and partly because these items will presumably not be allowed out of the factory without complying with stringent health and safety standards.
Broken shower doors will be a big hazard, particularly in the bathroom where people will be without clothes and therefore more vulnerable to injury. So I would expect them to be manufactured with this in mind and to be resistant to ordinary bangs and knocks.
Also, had this door had any inherent weakness, you would have expected it to have broken earlier. So on balance my view is that it is more likely to have broken through misuse.
However as it is nearly 5 years old, I expect an adjudicator would make some deduction for ‘betterment’ as even if the damage was down to the tenants you are not entitled to ‘new lamps for old’.
The shower door will need to be replaced so no doubt you will want to do this yourself – otherwise either the tenants may replace it with the wrong door or use the shower without a door, which will cause damage to the bathroom.
However (if I am right) it is something which you should be able to claim from the deposit at the end of the tenancy if the tenants fail to reimburse you (less an appropriate deduction for betterment).
Make sure though that, if this is challenged, you provide the adjudicator with a copy of the information from the manufacturers about the circumstances under which this door can break, along with any other safety information which may have been provided at the time you bought the unit, so he has something he can base his decision on.
(Note – this situation shows why you should always keep EVERYTHING about the items provided in your rented property).
What do others think? Has anyone experience of this sort of thing? If any adjudicators are reading this, please leave a comment and let us know how you would approach this on the information provided!