A series of high-profile cases of trashed rental properties raises the question of why the perpetrators manage to avoid jail time for wilful damage, Tenancies War spokesman Mike Butler said today.

The Crimes Act is clear that a person who intentionally or recklessly destroys or damages any property is liable to be jailed for up to seven years.

“The Minister of Police and Police Commissioner should make a statement on why those who trash rental property are exempt from wilful damage charges,” Mr Butler said.

“Any government that was serious about applying the law in an even-handed manner would regard damage to rental property as offence under the Crimes Act warranting jail for up to seven years”, Mr Butler said

“There would be little difficulty in proving the case because the damage is visible for everyone to see and the person responsible has his or her name on the tenancy agreement”, Mr Butler said.

“In my experience, police have never done anything about complaints I have made about damage to rental property, and instead have said it was a matter for the Tenancy Tribunal,” Mr Butler said.

“And the Tenancy Tribunal questions the legitimacy of proof of the photographic evidence and starts to quibble as to whether the owner has insurance, whether damage is a single event or multiple events, and whether it is accidental or deliberate,” he said.

“If the persons named on any tenancy agreement faced charges and jail time after damage to property, we would have fewer instances of damage to rental property”, Mr Butler said.

The group Stop the War on Tenancies aims to empower both owners and tenants in the face of ongoing Government ineptitude with housing.

See: Landlord left with $42,000 repair bill from tenant says law doesn’t protect investors