My tenant has damaged my property, what can I do?

If your tenant damages any of the contents of your property, you can deduct an amount from the deposit or even take legal action.

Damage to a rental property

Your tenant should report to you any damage to furniture or fittings immediately. You should then both agree how any replacement or repair is to be arranged and how payment will be made. 

If your tenant doesn't tell you about the damage and replaces or repairs an item without your agreement, then you should be able to identify this when you come to check the inventory. 

The assured shorthold tenancy (AST) agreement should also outline the repairs obligations of both parties. 

You would then be entitled to deduct an amount from the deposit, or take legal action against your tenant for compensation.

Wear and tear in a rental property

Remember, over a period of time, most household furniture and contents deteriorate as a result of normal use. 

For example, floor coverings will become worn and paint work will get tired and scuffed. 

This is known as ‘wear and tear’, and your tenant would not be liable for the replacement or upkeep of these items.

If the extent of the wear and tear means that it causes a hazard, for example, springs in an armchair begin to stick through the upholstery then you should replace or repair such items.

If you have supplied an appliance such as a cooker or washing machine that was working at the beginning of the tenancy, you have a responsibility to repair or replace it if it breaks down, unless this is as a result of the tenants’ negligence.

Top tips

  • Your tenant should report any damage immediately. You should then both agree how any replacement or repair is to be arranged
  • If the damage is due to wear and tear, your tenant would not be liable for the replacement or upkeep of these items
  • You can use the deposit to claim back the costs of damage, but note that the rest should be returned

 

Deposits

You can use the deposit to claim back the cost of damage to the property, missing items, cleaning, or unpaid rent. 

However, even if you have a valid reason for keeping back part of the deposit, the rest of it should be returned. You should also note that your tenant can ask to be shown receipts or estimates for items that have been deducted from the deposit. 

You cannot withhold any of the deposit unless there has been any financial loss suffered. So, for example, if your tenant had a noisy party when the contract stipulated they could not, you could not use that as a reason for withholding a deposit.

Evicting a tenant

If you have reason to evict your tenant, follow our step-by-step guide to find out what you need to do. 

Renting guide

The Department for Communities and Local Government has produced a How to Rent guide, which includes some useful tips for both landlords and tenants. 

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