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Tenant Damage can be costly

Tenants may cause serious damage to rental property

Who pays for repairing the damage at a rental property can depend on what exactly has gone wrong.

Landlords are responsible for damage to the fabric of the property, such as, missing roof slates causing damp, broken down boilers and leaks and all landlords should have suitable Buy-To-Let insurance in place to cover the costs of repairs.

Tenants may also have to put their hands in their pockets if the landlord considers damage to fixtures and fittings is beyond normal wear and tear. Ie. The day-to-day deterioration of a property, like scuffs to the decor, carpets wearing and screws coming loose. There are suitable insurance policies out there specifically for tenants.

A fairly high proportion of Tenancy Deposit disputes relate to disagreements about what exactly comes under the definition of normal wear and tear.

Landlords need to make this call, and be prepared to back their judgment with evidence if required to do so at independent adjudication should a tenant lodge a complaint against having money deducted from the deposit.

Normal wear and tear is not defined in law, but the definition comes from years of rulings in disputed cases before the courts.

A judge or adjudicator is likely to consider normal wear and tear as damage or deterioration to a property arising from normal usage.

That triggers a debate about normal usage, which varies from case to case. For example, normal usage in a family home with a couple of toddlers is vastly different to that in a property lived in by a single pensioner.

• Normal wear and tear may include – finger marks near electrical sockets and switches; scuffs on doors and walls; tack holes; faded or peeling paint or faded soft furnishings
• Damage may include – writing or drawing on walls; holes in walls or woodwork; nail holes that need filling and repainting; carpet stains; burn marks; ripped soft furnishings or missing fittings.

Problems arise if the tenant’s deposit is not enough to cover the landlords cost of cleaning and repairs.

Often a tenant who mistreats a buy to let property is likely to have rent arrears as well and the landlord may be forced to go through the eviction process and get the tenant out before repairs can be started .

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