Tenants damaging the property is one of the top two nightmares of a landlord – the other one being tenants not paying rent. Property damage can happen for many reasons. Parties, angry tenants, extra guests in the property that you didn’t know about or tenants trying to repair something but making everything worse. The extent of the damage can also be varied – from simple wear and tear to a big hole in the wall and broken tiles. Therefore, the question ”How To Handle Tenant Damages?” is very popular amongst many landlords.
As a landlord, how can you deal with that? This is a question we are going to answer in this article.
Damage vs Wear and Tear
Of course, damage is damage, but not all of them tenants cause intentionally or accidentally. Be aware that most damages are sourced from wear and tear. Especially when you rent for more extended periods when the tenant uses the appliances and furniture every day.
Things get broken with usage and age, such as ovens and pipes – radiators clog and doorknobs loosen up. Therefore, before jumping to any conclusion and accusing the tenant, check first what type of damage that is.
Types of Damages
Some possible accidental or intentional damages are:
- Broken window – this is a type of damage that you can detect even without entering the property and can be caused by a number of factors, including accidents and events where the person has shut it so firmly it broke.
- Cigarette burns – typical damage if your tenant has the habit of smoking inside the house. It is also possible that they threw a party where people smoked inside the property and were careless.
- Breaking furniture – do you work with furnished apartments? If so, you will probably face this type of tenant damage someday – beds, chairs, wardrobes, and cabinets are the most common kinds of furniture that careless tenants break.
- Pets damage the property – if you allow pets in the contract, you need to prepare to deal with some pet damage. The worst-case scenario is when you didn’t let the tenant have pets in the rental unity!
- Breaking curtain poles – angry tenants can do that very quickly, but some that end up breaking the curtain pole were probably trying to change the curtains the wrong way.
- Damaging carpets – this happens more often when the tenant spills a drink in the carpet and tries to clean it with the wrong products or tools.
- Damages during parties – many of the damages mentioned (on carpets, walls, appliances, furniture and windows) may happen during a party.
Suppose your property has more than one tenant. In that case, you should perform an investigation to try to identify who did it, why, and when. If it’s an HMO, for example, you can always check with other tenants if they know what happened – they will probably tell you because no one wants to take the blame.
During your investigation, ask questions and try to get as many info as you can. Don’t forget to take pictures! Ideally, each time a tenant moves in, you should take photos of your property. It will help you to check later if something has changed or if the damage was already there. If you have these pictures from before the tenant moving in, do a before/after image and show them.
Of course, communication is one of the best ways to solve a problem like this. Speak with your tenant. If they admit to what they did and don’t hide the problem, it will be much easier. You will be able to tell them the consequences, depending on the repair costs and the extent of the damage. Also, explain what you can both do and work together to find a solution.
If The Tenant Doesn’t Want To Cooperate
If they are not willing to cooperate, which is always a possible scenario, you should be aware of the regulations and use them in your favour. The Landlord and Tenant Act of 1985, for example, clarifies that the responsibilities are both of the landlords and tenants.
In Section 11, we can see that if the damage is caused by negligence or behaviour of the tenant, their visitors, or any other member of their household, the repair costs are their responsibility. You can take deductions from their security deposit since it is there specifically to cover damages.
However, if the tenant denies their responsibility for the damages, you will probably have to prove it. This is when taking the pictures and doing a property inventory will be most useful. There is also the possibility that the security deposit doesn’t cover all costs. In this case, you can also go to the court, and apply to file a claim for a larger amount.
For small claims, apply to a county court to claim money via the government website, the process can currently be done entirely online.
Hopefully, we helped you deal with tenant damages the best way possible, as much as we hope that you never have to go through this situation. Unfortunately, a landlord’s career typically is accompanied by one or two angry tenants, and this guide can help you in case you need a hand. If you still need more help with managing your properties and tenants, contact us.