My tenants have left my property in poor condition - can I claim their deposit?

A Landlord who manages their own tenancy recently approached me for advice, as the tenant had left their property in poor condition after 5 years, with a number of repairs required both inside and out.

The tenant’s deposit was registered with one of the Government Approved Schemes.

I provided the following advice, which our Property Managers handle on a daily basis, as part of our management service:

  1. Refer to the tenancy agreement which will list items that can be deducted from the deposit.
  2. Before changing anything, make a clear record of the condition of the property when the tenants vacated, with as many photographs as possible.
  3. Notify your tenants in writing that you propose to make deductions from their deposit, and quotations are being obtained.
  4. Obtain written quotations from local contractors for the cleaning, repairs, redecoration, gardening, etc required.
  5. Write to the tenants, providing a full list of the defects/damages, compared with the condition of the property detailed in the original inventory, and enclose copies of the quotations obtained.
  6. Request the amount to be deducted from their deposit, allowing for ‘fair wear and tear’ where necessary.
  7. The tenancy agreement
  8. The original written inventory, supported by photographs
  9. The final checkout report, supported by photographs
  10. References to the clauses within the tenancy agreement which support your claim
  11. Written quotations to support your claim
  12. Copies of relevant correspondence with your tenants

Decoration

Redecoration of main rooms would normally be expected after 3 years, so you may not be able to justify any contribution for redecoration.

‘Fair wear and tear’ should take into account the age and condition of the item when the tenancy began, and life expectancy of the item. For example, if a property was newly decorated at the beginning of a tenancy, and tenant lived there for 18 months but needed completely redecorating at the end, it would be reasonable to request 50% of the costs of redecorating from the tenant.

The same can be applied to carpets, but the age and quality (life expectancy) of the carpet would need to be taken into consideration.

It is important to note that a landlord cannot claim ‘betterment’ for any items (new for old), so a contribution towards replacement of any item would be deemed reasonable.

Cleaning

Cleaning (including professional carpet cleaning) should be straightforward, providing the property was documented as clean at the beginning of the tenancy. It is important to note that, under the Tenant Fees Act, a landlord cannot charge a tenant for “professional” cleaning, unless the property was documented (with receipts) as “professionally cleaned” at the beginning.


Formal Dispute

If the tenants do not agree to the proposed deductions, we will first try to mediate between both parties, to reach an amount which is acceptable to all.

If you cannot reach an amicable agreement with your tenant, you should gather the evidence together to submit a formal claim to the deposit registration provider. The documentation you will need is as follows –

Once the formal claim has been submitted to the scheme provider, they will write to your tenants, requesting their agreement, giving them the opportunity to raise a dispute and submit their own evidence (usually within 30 days).

If the tenants disagree with the claim, or do not respond within the required period, all evidence is submitted for final adjudication.

The decision of the adjudicator is final and binding, and the deposit is allocated in accordance with their decision.

A formal dispute can take up to 90 days. It is therefore in the best interests of all parties to negotiate and reach an amicable agreement if at all possible to avoid this lengthy process.

Dawn Clarke, Lettings Director

d.clarke@nockdeighton.co.uk

Contacting us

Find your local office

Our Offices
Homeowner looking to sell?

Your FREE Seller’s Guide

Download