Broken window and tenancy question.

A week or so ago my grandson fell through a ground-level window at our rented home. He suffered relatively minor cuts (given the OK by the ambulance who attended and by the local Doc) and we called in the glazier recommended by our real-estate agent to fix said window.

Now, the house is about 100yrs old, and the glass in the window was not the approved safety glass that is now mandatory for all windows at ground level (and up to 500mm). Obviously, the glass that was installed by the glazier IS the approved glass, and more expensive of course.

Would we have a case to ask the owner to recompense us for some of the cost of the replacement glass? Given that if it had the safety glass installed in the first place, a) kid wouldn’t have fallen through it, and b) wouldn’t have suffered any injury if he HAD fallen through it.

What say Dopers?

If you have grandkids in what is understood to be a 100 year old house with all the associated physical issues a house like that would have I would say it’s more your responsibility to keep an eye on the child in that environment than expecting that kind of environment is going to have adequate child safety features. So in that kind of circumstance I would not say it’s a landlord’s responsibility to be upgrading the old windows on a 100 year old house if that’s what you understood you were leasing.

I Googled, and self proclaimed internet experts in Victoria seem to think that while you will be on the hook for the first of replacing the glass, that doesn’t necessarily entitle the landlord to a free upgrade on what was there. You may be able to negotiate to pay the replacement cost of the glass equivalent to what was there before, and get the landlord to pay the difference between that and the safety glass. Surely it couldn’t hurt to ask.


Like all things in life…this could get complicated. There are probably other issues involved that might be more important than the cost of a piece of glass.
What is your relationship to the landlord? How long are you planning to stay there? Is he likely to raise the rent ? etc

Staying on good terms with your landlord for several years is worth a lot more money than a one-time repair to a window.


Y’all weren’t watching this child such that a window got broken and you think the owners of the house should kick in? Because it wasn’t the newly required safety glass?

Wow, just wow!

Where do you get the information that the kid wasn’t being watched? Watching someone doesn’t always mean that you reach them in time to keep them from falling down, or with the right angle to do so.

Evidently not applicable in Victoria, but in Spain the cost and responsibility to fix the window would have been completely on the landlord unless it can be shown that it was broken on purpose (not the case here); whether “someone should have been a better helicopter” only enters the equation if there was such purposeful damage.

A child can trip and fall in an instant. I don’t know how you could possibly know that this was a preventable accident from the information given.

Safety glass wasn’t mandatory when the house was built 100 years ago, but has been since at least 2006 when the current standards were adopted. This isn’t a “new” standard, just a newer one than the house.

I don’t see what’s wrong with expecting Kam to pay for an equivalent replacement and have the landlord pay for the upgrade. Like for like is a pretty standard compensation. Legally that can’t be done, so **Kam **reimburses the landlord for the value of the broken window, then the landlord pays the difference to get it up to modern code, and claims it on tax.

I’m confused as to why kam made a repair on someone else’s property without speaking with them first. The landlord may have been able to choose a less expensive option, thier ability to do that has been taken away. It’s a rental property the landLord could have said screw it I don’t care if it’s ugly and used plexiglass, which is cheaper and still meets safety requirements. They could have also chosen to do without the window and boarded it off.

For some clarification we are talking regular glass vs tempered glass. We have no way of knowing that the child’s actions wouldn’t have also broken tempered glass, it isn’t much different in terms of duribility. It still breaks, it does so in a safer manner so the child may have avoided injury. I don’t know how big a piece of glass we are talking here but in most cases the majority of the cost is labor. Sure tempered glass is more expensive than regular glass but installation cost is identical. What is the materials cost here?

I don’t think such a request is going to fly well with the landlord. ‘Hey we broke you shit but we fixed it so now you owe us money’ I think it’s a reasonable comprise that the landlord pays the difference between the materials but it would have to be a substantial amount of money to even bring it up. 20 or 30 bucks is not worth pestering your landlord over.

A compromise seems in order. It may be possible to board up the window and still meet code requirements. Doesn’t sound reasonable for the tenant to have to pay for an upgrade, it’s the landlord’s obligation to keep the building up to spec. Also, this may be a case where the landlord is obligated to mitigate the damages and only require the minimum necessary repairs if they aren’t going to pitch in also.

Does the law that requires the safer glass have any provisions that require older homes to be brought up to code? If so, then the landlord should have already made that upgrade.

I’d expect that in the case of window glass, the law is something like “new construction must use this stuff”, or “all repairs or replacements must use it, but you don’t have to go out and fix what ain’t broke”.

I think the OP did the right thing by paying for the repair - something like that would usually be considered more than normal wear-and-tear (at least here in the US; the laws may be different down in Australia). But if the cost difference is significant, it’s not out of line to mention to the landlord that the expense was more than a reasonable amount.

Nope. It’s not retroactive. However, it looks like civil cases have been brought successfully against entities that did not upgrade to safety glass when there have subsequently been injuries caused by the older glass:

Well, yeah, if you asked them first. I mean, you can negotiate to reduce your rent to split the cost of the replacement over and above the lower cost glass but I can’t see why they shouldn’t tell you to fuck off. You make a repair, that’s one thing. You make an improvement they haven’t authorized, that’s another.

Unless you are saying that local law requires any replacement glass to be of the new type.

You can make the case that the landlord should have already replaced the window with safety glass, and all you have done is to give him the incentive to do so. The lease implicitly mandates the landlord to provide you with a safe living environment, which is defined by any current building code.

The current building codes typically grandfather places that were built before the codes came into effect, at least until the next major remodel. Houses that haven’t been upgraded are safe and aren’t in violation, they’re just not as safe as is possible. There are many exceptions to this (Carbon Monoxide detectors for example), but typically there’s no requirement that a landlord upgrade the house with expensive repairs every time the building codes are updated.

You can try to make this case, but I don’t think you’ll get very far.

My humble IANAL opinion: assuming Telemark is correct and they weren’t in the wrong for not having replaced the glass already, they are under no obligation whatsoever to recompense you for any of the cost of the replacement glass, though you could always ask. Why should your grandson breaking the window cost them money?

Errrm, yeah. Local laws DO mandate that any glass now be ‘safety glass’. That’s the whole point of this thread…how did you manage to miss that, or are you really not all that bright? :smiley:

Anyway, no harm no foul. Decided not to approach the agent/landlord because a) yes we broke the window, b) we got it fixed and c) we don’t need any grief from bloody agents or landlords. They now have an ‘improvement’ to their property at our expense.

Well, it’s obviously apparent you don’t have kids, or if you do, they’re hogtied during their waking hours!

The kid (3yrs old) tripped in the living room and hit the window…the window at GROUND LEVEL in a room where 3yr old kids normally hang out (unless they’re caged or as above hogtied or straightjacketed). :smiley:

If you made the repair (and the decision) already then this is probably moot, but… as a landlord in Melbourne, if something gets broken in the house I own, I pretty much expect to pay for it. It might be a bit of a black mark against the tenants if the damage happened while someone was doing something really egregiously stupid, but "tripped, fell " doesn’t really fit that category.

On the other hand I’d also expect to find out about it before the repair was done, and to organise the repair myself. So in this case I’d probably say … Yeah, eat the cost this time, remember to call the property manager the next time.

Glad to hear your grandson is okay by the way. Glass can be nasty!

It was a bit surreal really. The morning after the ‘accident’ I emailed the property manager to notify them of the damage AND to ask for their preferred repairer. The agent was bloody snooty, and told me “IN FUTURE JUST REFER TO THE RENTAL PACK KAMBUCKTA” but also gave me the number of their glazier.

To be honest, I was taken aback! I thought it was incumbent on us to report all damage, but the response indicated she didn’t want to know about it at all, and was essentially pissed off that I’d notified her.