To pay or not to pay, that is the question……

17 02 2011

Deposits….The tenant expects it, the Landlord wants it…who wins??

Here are some questions and answers that you may find interesting.

Question
A situation has arisen whereby we have released a deposit to a former tenant and then a couple of weeks later we have a bad bug infestation at the property. . A professional pest controller says the infestation is well established, probably down to this previous tenant and will report this in writing. Can we go back to the previous tenants to claim from their deposit?

Answer
Look at the tenancy agreement to see if this is covered. If the tenancy agreement does not cover this you will have to rely entirely on the professional report. You may not succeed in your claim unless there is an appropriate clause in the tenancy agreement.

Question
Tenant has placed a hot pan on a work surface and scorched it badly approx 6″. The worktops are only three years old and the area affected is small in relation to the total length. The cost to replace the whole worktop will be £420 but we have informed the landlord that they will only be able to claim around 10% of that from the tenant.  Are we correct in our assumption?

Answer
You are certainly right in that they will not normally be able to claim for new work tops. The tenant was not required to return new worktops and so they should be depreciated accordingly. What else is possible will vary by the layout of the kitchen and the availability of the worktops. It would be reasonable to assume the worktops would last something in the region of 10-20 years and so 90% depreciation may be too much, however it is usually almost impossible to guess what an adjudicator might award.

Question
We did a check out when the landlord was not there but the landlord’s daughter was present on his behalf. The property was in good condition but the tenant had changed a thin blind to a ground floor bedroom for a blackout blind (they had left the thin blind at the property). The landlord wants the thin blind back. Also in one bedroom there were CD’s around the top of the walls held in place by BluTak. There were falling off. The tenant was given permission to remove them all. However, to cover the BluTak staining, the tenant fitted a paper border. The landlord is now not happy about the border and wants to claim from the tenant.

Answer
If the thin blind was previously fitted it should be a very minor task to refit it. They often run on the same fittings and if so, it could be changed in a moment or two. The work involved in restringing this could be claimed. The situation with the decoration is interesting. When the tenant was given permission to remove the CDs the top of the wall needed redecoration. With the paper border the wall still needs decoration if the landlord does not like the current decor style. It is going to be a close run thing if the landlord is entitled to any compensation for this as it is debatable if the landlord has actually suffered any loss against which to claim.

Question
A tenant has contacted us informing us that when they got home yesterday evening the glass on the sliding door to the porch at the front of the property was cracked. They do not know how this has happened. Before I contact them to discuss can you confirm whose responsibility this is.

Answer
Unless you can show it was the tenant’s fault it will be for the landlord to pay as section 11 makes maintenance of the exterior of the property the responsibility of the landlord.

Question
A property needs redecoration on vacation of the tenant. The tenancy was three and a half years long and the property was decorated 4 years ago. How much should we deduct from the tenant?

Answer
You need to quantify the difference between wear and tear and damage over and above which might be expected bearing in mind the length of the tenancy. Any claim is unlikely to be successful, particularly as it is your personal opinion that there is no more deterioration except what would be expected for wear and tear. You should explain this to your landlord and that they are liable to maintain their own property and cannot penalize the tenant simply
for living in it.

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