Water Damage in Rental Property - Who Should Pay?

Hi Ozbargain

I have been renting a property for the past 2 years. The MDF vanity has water damage which the agent wants me to replace. But I have argued
- Poor quality MDF Used
- Sink top does not have a lip over the MDF so water is forced to drip down
- Vanity was not level when installed causing water to always drip down that way

6 months into the rental, cracks started showing in the sides of the MDF. I contacted the agent, they brought a builder in and he told me that I have to wipe down the vanity after each use. Now 1 year further it has just expanded even more.

Not sure what do do, if I need to pay the replacement fee, before the end inspection or dispute it through a bond dispute. Or any ways I can get the agent to pay for the replacement. This is happening in a few other areas in the building. (Wolli Creek)

Kind regards



  • No way you should pay.
    Tell the agent you wont be paying for the replacement and if they attempt to claim on your bond then you will be more than happy to go to the tribunal.
    Then remind them that the vanity was installed with inadequate water protection and you have photo evidence to support this.
    They probably cut the benchtop for the sink and didnt seal or paint the cut edge. if you get under the sink and take a photo of the exposed area you can demonstrate that.
    If its one of those new apartment blocks, where all the units have the same fit out, tell the agent you have testimony from other tenants in the building that the problem is a common one and its a builder defect.

  • Doccument your findings clearly and stand your ground.

  • This is a vanity, it should be able to withstand water. Who makes a vanity out of MDF without sealing it properly?

    Don’t know your state but talk to the Tenants union. Victorian one below.


  • They should pay for water damage to their own property. Though a vanity from Ikea doesn't really cost much, it wouldn't cost the landlord much to have someone cut it to fit the existing sink, or just buy a new sink too. The source of the water damage would need to be discovered and repaired anyway. The owner should want a plumber in there just to get an update on how his old pipes are holding up anyway.

    On the other hand if you're going to be liable to replace it anyway, then you're better off paying for it now and enjoying the new vanity until you leave, rather than pay for it when you leave and have to put up with the crumbling one until then.

  • Yep, wouldn't take it. If they put in decent materials the first time they wouldn't have this issue. MDF and water should never mix.

  • Are you saying the vanity was made with exposed and untreated/unsealed MDF? Whodafuq thinks that was a good idea?

    As others have said, I would not be paying for that if I was you. Its completely ridiculous to expect a vanity to be "kept dry" at all times. Based on what you've outlined this was the classic accident waiting to happen.

  • Can you upload some pictures?

  • Yeah, that's really annoying. They fit something cheap and not fit for use, then expect you to pay for replacing it with something decent.
    Would be useful to see a photo.

  • No way you should be paying this.
    Some landlords expect to not spend anything and still be able to generate income from their investment properly. They start cheaping out on everything for their tenants.

    If they try to deduct your bond, take them to the tribunal!

  • Please see my vanity photo - What do you think? https://drive.google.com/file/d/1TfJ6XA8FMNlLo2SxEl4E39-av3V...

    We have the same issue - the vanity is surely made of laminated particle boards. We noticed a plastic wrap on the vanity, we though it is a brand new so they have some cover, but, later on, we found it peeled off slowly and the water and mist sitting on and resulted in swell, followed by discolour and damage.

  • What can we do about this.

    As to me it’s cheap quality. But the agent will say we didn’t use it correctly. And the builder will say they installed it correctly and it has water damage so they will not cover it.

    • Have you talked to the tenants union? Just because the owner, and builder, say it is OK it doesn’t mean it is.

  • I had a similar issue a long ago - the agent claimed $100 assuming the cost of replacement was $500. Although I argued a bit around vanity should withstand water splashes etc but I just paid as I thought $100 was fair as I had kids splashing water (the agent himself said I was not required to pay the full replacement costs but a portion of it)