Discerning Wear & Tear vs. Negligence

Did you have a party and accidentally break the toilet? In terms of damages, there is an important difference between negligence versus  normal wear and tear. Every now and then, even if you’re careful, things will break. Your landlord has a responsibility of maintaining that everything in the dwelling is functioning. This may not apply if something broke out of negligence. However, sometimes landlords like to make tenants believe they have been negligent in order to pass on the responsibility of repairs. Keep in mind that it is the tenant’s responsibility to inform the landlord when repairs are needed. If this is not done, the damage may get worse and thus result in negligence on the part of the tenant.


  1. Think about the sequence of events resulting in something breaking. Did you throw a brick through the window or were you simply closing it? Did you bring a saw to the handle on your front door or did it break due to constant use?
  2. If you do not think you were being negligent then write your landlord a demand letter stating that something is broken and needs fixing.


How do I prove to my landlord that this is an issue of wear and tear and not negligence?

Generally things break due to wear and tear and not negligence. You have to behave in a negligent manner in order for something to break due to negligence. This tends to happen under particular circumstances like a party. Negligent behaviour also happens when we do not uphold our responsibilities; one example of this is when a tenant shuts the heat off in the winter and the pipes burst: in this case they neglected their responsibility to keep the apartment reasonably heated. If something breaks under the usual circumstances this is wear and tear. It is important to let your landlord know of things that are broken or do not work as soon as they occur.

What if my landlord refuses to fix something even after I have sent them a registered demand letter?

If the issue in question needs immediate attention see urgent and necessary repairs. If it is causing a health and safety issue in your dwelling do not hesitate to contact the city inspectors. Once you have sent a demand letter you may contact the city inspectors.