Ideally, when there’s damage to furniture or fittings, the tenants should report to their property manager immediately. You should then agree on how any replacement or repair is to be arranged and how payment will be made – however, not all agreements are always made amicably.
In the unfortunate event that a tenant has damaged your property and neglected to notify you or is refusing to pay for repairs, you can follow our advice to resolve the situation:
Classifying what is wear and tear:
Firstly, you need to differentiate what is genuine damage, and what is ‘wear and tear’ with the law becoming clearer in regard to fair wear and tear. With more rigid guidelines in place, it is no longer down to the landlord’s discretion to categorise wear and tear. For example, if towards the end of the tenancy the flooring looks scuffed, you cannot reasonably accuse the tenant of causing damage as minor marks like those are expected in a property that’s being rented. Genuine damage is classified as the destruction of property that could have been avoided.
When should you deduct from the deposit?
You can, by law retain a part or all the security deposit to cover the cost of damage repairs. You are only allowed to claim back the exact cost of damage to your property, missing items, cleaning or unpaid rent.
The Landlord and Tenant Act, 1985 sets out the responsibilities of both landlords and tenants. Section 11 deals with the issue of repairs and states that tenants should:
‘Make good any damage to the property caused by the behaviour or negligence of the tenant, members of his/her household or any other person lawfully visiting or living in the property.’
This means that damage caused by the tenant, or anyone the tenant invites to the property, will need to be repaired or paid for by the tenant. By law, the deposit should be placed into a deposit protection scheme. This money will become available to the landlord, if any serious damage occurs during the tenancy.
Option of eviction:
If the tenant is still living in your property and you’re unhappy with the damaged they have caused, you may even have enough grounds to evict them. If your tenancy agreement evidently declares the consequences of any damages caused to your property and you maintain communication with your tenants on the situation, you can help in minimizing the lengthy disputes and reach a conclusion that is satisfactory to all parties.
How to prevent future tenancy issues:
Before each tenancy commences, you should take an inventory of the property as well as photographs, to use as evidence of its condition- before the tenants move in. The inventory should include all furniture, details of the condition of the walls, carpets, and appliances. You should also make it clear to the tenants that by signing the tenancy agreement, they are agreeing and acknowledging the current condition of the property. Finally, you should always keep evidence of any communication regarding damages for instances where a claim needs to be made against your landlord insurance policy, or a dispute is escalated to litigation.