What evidence may I require, as a landlord?
What evidence may I require, as a landlord?
How to assess damages at the end of a tenancy and a formula to help calculate potential costs.
Why is an independently compiled report preferred?
If you happen to find yourself in the
unfortunate situation of going to a dispute at the end of a tenancy, it will be
very handy to have the following items of evidence on hand.
Firstly, The Tenancy Agreement - This will be used to establish the contractual agreement between Landlord and Tenant. Obligations between parties are found written here and will provide crucial information to any Adjudicator seeking to settle a dispute.
Secondly, Inventory Reports, Check in and check out reports - It is important that these reports are descriptive, well laid out and any amendments noted during the tenancy have been duly recorded. Reports that are prepared by Independent Inventory Clerks will be seen as unbiased and impartial. A landlord prepared inventory may not necessarily be dismissed, but further corroborating evidence may be required if any questions of potential bias come up.
Third, Photographic proof - Good quality images. Before and after photos which are date stamped. Defects pointed out and easily discernible to the Adjudicator. Example below.
Fourth, Invoices and Receipts - These are required in the event any repair work has been carried out.
Fifth, Professional Cleaning Charges - An invoice should be kept. If a property has been professionally cleaned at the beginning of a tenancy it is reasonable to expect it cleaned to the same standard at check out. Additionally if a property is left in a complete mess at the end of a tenancy and the landlord has hired a cleaning contractor, an invoice would need to be produced.
Sixth, Rent Account Statements, Utility bills and Council Tax - This would be need to seen if there are any disputes relating to rent arrears or utilities.
Seventh, Standard Agency Charges - Standard
agency charges that deducted from the deposit must be fully explained to the
tenant. Tenants may also challenge these. Please contact us for further information on this.
And Finally, Witness Statements - Witness Statements or letters in support may be submitted to the Adjudicator for consideration.
How can a Landlord fairly assess damages at the end of a tenancy?
The tenancy has ended and the check out report processed. You (The landlord), having viewed the report, see that the two of the bedroom walls in your property have been found with multiple sticker marks and extra picture hooks. In your tenancy agreement there was provision for the tenants to put up a maximum of 3 picture hooks per room. The walls were all newly decorated just before the tenants moved in. The tenants have put 4 picture hooks in one room, 9 in the other, and one of the bedroom`s has approximately 100 sticker marks scattered throughout.
So how would you resolve this situation fairly? The first thing that may come to your mind is that all the walls need repainting, and the tenant should be liable for this. As this may be true for the bedroom walls that has been degraded by the sticker marks and hooks, there is a few things you should bear in mind first.
You may have heard of the term Betterment. Let`s start with the tenant. It is a principle of law that the tenant does not need to leave the property in better condition than in what he found it at the start of the tenancy. Additionally, it is extremely important that the landlord takes fair wear and tear into account before considering the claim.
Betterment in relation to the landlord would mean that you (as the landlord) have no obligation to replace any item with an item of a higher value. For example the fridge breaks down during the tenancy and the tenant requests a new one. The landlord in this situation would only have to replace a fridge of the same value.
Reverting to the example of damages above. Sticker marks and the extra picture hooks are certainly not fair wear and tear. So how would you calculate a fair sum for the tenant to pay? Lets throw an equation and example into the mix.
The tenants have lived there for 3 years. They consisted of two couples. The expected lifespan of the bedroom walls after they were newly painted is approx. 5 years. So depreciation needs to be taken into account. The potential lifespan of the walls is still a further 2 years. You have done some calculations and to redecorate the room will cost £200.
A - Useful lifespan of the decorations to that room 5 years
B - The age of the decorations at the end of the tenancy 3 years
C - Potential remaining lifespan of the decorations 2 years (a minus b)
D - Cost of redecorating the room £200
E - Depreciation of value (D divided by A) £40 per year
F - Liability for the tenant £80 (E multiplied by C)
So in this case, £80 for the room with stickers would be fair plus a additional amount for filling the holes (from the picture hooks).
There will also be a time when a tenant damages a fixture, fitting or item but it does not warrant complete replacement. For example, The tenant has recently checked out and after viewing the check out report, you notice 3 small candle burn marks have been noted to the reception carpet. If the stains or marks are not big or large enough to qualify for carpet replacement, the landlord would have to accept compensation for reduction in the value of the item. However, if the carpet was completely ruined by stains, marks etc., the landlord could certainly claim for replacement, but would still not be able to claim the full replacement cost due to depreciation (age of the carpet at the end of the tenancy). A goodly amount could still be claimed though depending on the age of the carpet.
References : A guide to best practice for inventory providers - ARLA Asset Skills NAEA RICS 2007 including 2011
The advantage of
having a professional inventory drawn up cannot be underestimated. A poorly
recorded or written report may leave the landlord with no foundation for a
A landlord may construct his own inventory but there a 2 major disadvantages that pertain to this.
Firstly - Detail
A property inventory report needs to be highly detailed to stand up in court. Fixtures and fittings need to be objectively analysed with a critical eye. Here is an example of a detailed description and analysis of the condition of an item. Lets take a look at a pair of curtains in the reception room.
Description: 1 x Set of grey, chenille effect, pinch pleated curtains with white back linings mounted on a white acrylic curtain rail with pull cables and wall mounted toggle.
Condition: The curtains are above floor length, there is a small tear at mid-level to the interior back lining of the left curtain. The curtains are clean and in working order
Here we leave no doubt to how the curtains look and in what condition they are in.
We have also specified the length of the curtains. This is
very important because if they were over floor length curtains for example, the
tenant would not be liable for any cleaning charges ( at the check out) , as
these curtains would be dragging across the floor and getting soiled during the
tenancy. In this instance the landlord would have to foot the cleaning cost. A landlord
could save money here by shortening the curtains and cleaning them pre -
tenancy. If the curtains were now found soiled at the check out, this would be
at the liability of the tenant.
Secondly - Bias
The report may simply not be taken as 100% fact for the reason that the landlord has a obvious vested interest in his/ her own property.
To summarize, a well drawn up inventory protects your most expensive investment, your property. And most importantly, gives you peace of mind.