What to do if your Tenant has Damaged your Property?
It would be nice if all tenants returned the property in exactly the same conditions they found it, but this is often not the case. Sometimes this is simply because “life happens” and accidents occur. Yet, at other times, tenants might have been neglectful or careless towards your property, damaging fixtures, furniture or worse the fabric of the building
If you think your property has been damaged by one of your tenants, there are a few things you can do.
Claim Damages through the Tenants Deposit Scheme
Every deposit that you take must be registered with an approved scheme, which enables your tenants to dispute any deductions you wish to make for damages. Assuming you have done this properly, you should be within your rights to claim damage costs from your tenant’s deposit.
You must follow the right steps in doing this, which includes referencing the initial inventory and check in report and letting your tenant know that they have damaged the property and must pay for certain repairs or replacements. Throughout the tenancy you can use periodic inspection software to help you do this.
At this point, it is wise not to let things get too personal or bitter. Simply state the facts and the required action that will be taken. If you face disputes, this will still cause you a headache, so it’s best to let the details speak for themselves. As such, you must always ensure you have accrued out a diligent check-in report which is signed off by the tenant at the start of each tenancy.
We would also advise that you look for reasonably priced repair contractors and replacements rather than going with the most expensive option you can find, simply because you can.
If you wish to make a deduction from the security deposit for damages and your tenant does not agree to this, the third-party holding the deposit can act as an independent adjudicator.
Follow Landlord Requirements throughout the Tenancy
One of the easiest way to avoid a situation building up right to the point of the end of tenancy is to ensure that you get mid-term inspections scheduled at appropriate points. Usually with a new tenant this might be, initially, after three months, extending to every six months thereafter. You must respect your tenant’s privacy and give them at least 24 hours’ written notice of a visit and you must visit at reasonable times of the day.
These rules are in place to ensure that your tenant has the option to be there and be available to speak to you or have another witness present, should they feel the need.
Be on Good Terms with your Tenants
Most people will accept when something has gone wrong and be willing to fix the damage. Establishing a cordial relationship early on will help make such situations easier to resolve.
By staying on good terms with your tenants, or making sure your property manager is reasonable with them, you can get them to simply cover the cost of what is necessary without too much fuss. Starting with a fair and accurate check-in report, you can simply let your tenants know that they will need cover cost of damages during their tenancy.
Mid-term inspections also give tenants the opportunity to report problems to you as soon as they occur so that you can effect a repair and avoid damage from getting worse. As a landlord maintenance of the fabric of the building, such as the roof, external drains etc. is your responsibility. An unrepaired loose window could lead to substantial damage over time such as rotting frames and damp.
Whether your tenant has reported a problem to you or not, it is important to remember that they are not liable for reasonable wear and tear. You cannot deduct money from your tenant’s deposit if damage is simply a natural consequence of them living in the property.
Follow Best Practices for Property Rentals
The best way to avoid a disaster is to follow certain principles and guidelines relating to property management. For instance, a detailed inventory, adequate insurance, and regular checks essential to protect yourself against a significant financial loss. This can be done easily with intuitive inventory apps and periodic inspection software that makes the whole process so much easier.
Dan, 23 July 2021
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