It has been recently reported in the Daily Mail that a tenant who lost his deposit of £1,100 for staining a carpet during his tenancy hacked down more than 100 ‘For Sale’ signs in a ‘revenge attack’ after blaming letting agents.

Landlords will frequently come across tenants who have caused damage to varying degrees. Some tenants will deny that the damage has been caused or will argue that it is “fair wear and tear’ or that the property was in a poor state when they moved in.  It is sensible for a landlord to have all evidence in place before the start of the tenancy and afterwards to put them in the strongest position in the event there is a dispute with the tenant.  Under the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, tenants can now easily challenge the deposit deductions made by landlords.

Steps to consider prior to commencement of the tenancy

  1. Make sure tenants are referenced and credit checked
  2. Present properties in a clean and well maintained condition
  3. Take a higher deposit or require a guarantor as an alternative
  4. Prepare a detailed check-in report – This should list everything in the property and be as thorough as possible and include any defects.
  5. Take photographs of the property. This can be good evidence in the event that there is a dispute over the deposit. Make sure the photographs are dated.
  6. If appropriate, take out landlord’s contents insurance.

Steps to consider during the tenancy

  1. Regular inspections to discover any problems
  2. Prompt undertaking of repairs to maintain a good relationship with the tenant
  3. Provide advice and assistant to the tenant to keep the property in a good state e.g. advice on mildew

Steps to consider at the end of the tenancy

  1. Where damage is considerable, prepare a schedule of damage listing each item, describing the damage, the repairs or replacement and the cost
  2. Prepare a detailed check-out report. Consider using an independent check-out agent.
  3. Take dated photographs to support the check-out report.
  4. Obtain quotations or invoices for the repairs

Landlords should be aware that the burden of proof is on them to establish their entitlement to make deductions to deposits. As such, the taking and of evidence is vital!  If you require legal advice in respect of any problem with tenants, deposits or any other landlord and tenant dispute, do not hesitate to get in touch with one of our property litigation solicitors.

By Sally Eastwood,
Property Dispute Solicitor