Landlords must have the Tools
in Place to Charge Tenants for Damage
Thousands of landlords could be left out of pocket if they do not have the proper tools in place to charge tenants for the damage they have caused.
Most tenants are honest and will report damage when it occurs, but research has found that up to a third of tenants don't tell their landlords about the significant damage they have caused. The result is that thousands of landlords can be left out of pocket. To solve this growing problem, landlords are being urged to make sure they have the tools in place to make sure their tenants pay.
At Martin & Co. Camberley, we have procedures that ensure tenants can be reasonably charged for the damage they cause to a rental property, but that is not the case with all landlords or even all letting agencies. Failure to put these provisions in place can cost landlords thousands of pounds.
Some tenants 'play the system'
With house prices preventing many people from buying, there has been a rise in the number of serial renters who become more experienced and understand the ins and outs of the rental system. This includes the fine line between fair wear and tear and actual damage. Some will use this uncertainty to their advantage if landlords let them.
A recent YouGov survey of over 2,000 respondents found that 33 percent of tenants would not tell their landlords if they had done significant damage to the property. Of those, 16 percent would hire a professional to make the repairs, 15 percent would try to repair the damage themselves, while 2 percent would try to hide it.
While it's reassuring that only 2 percent would try to hide the damage, there is a risk that the repairs made by the other 31 percent would not be completed to the necessary standard. Those paying for a professional repair may limit the scope of the repair to reduce the cost, while those making repairs themselves are unlikely to have the necessary skills to perform the work to the required standard. The result could be a further bill for the landlord.
Stringent processes should be in place
Although the majority of private tenants do report any issues, the third that do not could create financial implications for their landlords. This highlights the need to make sure there are simple but stringent processes in place behind the scenes, including comprehensive tenant referencing, taking and protecting deposits and carrying out an independently compiled inventory.
The combination of these three processes gives landlords the very best chance to claim back any money they are owed in the event that damage is caused by the tenant. Tenant referencing in the first instance increases a landlord's prospects of finding good tenants and this is absolutely essential. Equally important is an inventory, which provides landlords with the evidence they need to make the necessary deductions from the tenant's deposit.
It's also important for landlords or letting agents to proactively warn and remind tenants to report damage as soon as it is caused and the potential implications of not doing so. The assured shorthold tenancy agreement should outline the repair obligations of both parties and your right, as the landlords, to deduct an amount from the deposit, or, if necessary, to take legal action against the tenant for compensation.
Top tips when charging tenants for damage
- Your tenant should report any damage immediately and the importance of this should be stressed. You should then agree how any replacement or repair should be arranged;
- If the damage is the result of wear and tear, the tenant is not liable for the replacement or upkeep of those items;
- The deposit can be used to claim back the costs of the damage but the remainder of the deposit must be returned.
How can we help?
At Martin & Co. Camberley, we carry out extensive checks to ensure all tenants we place are of the highest quality and work hard to make their experience of renting a home as smooth and professional as possible. The result is longer tenancies, fewer voids and tenants who pay on time and don't cause damage. If there is any damage caused, we use independent and trusted first-class tradesmen to keep a lid on maintenance costs.
For more information about our lettings service, please call our team on 1276 691510 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org today.
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t: 01276 691510