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Property damage

When renting your property out to a tenant, you will be expected to provide a tenancy agreement – usually an assured short hold tenancy – which should be signed by the tenant and yourself. It should outline the rights and responsibilities of both the tenant and landlord, including what happens in the event of any damage occurring to the property. Depending on whether you rent your property out furnished or unfurnished, you may also have items of furniture or appliances included also. During the length of a tenancy, normal wear and tear is expected to occur. This includes signs of wear on the carpet or flooring, paintwork may start to peel or fade and plaster may have started to crack. In this instance the tenant would not be penalised for any damage caused at the end of the tenancy.

However if damage occurs to the property such as a hole in the plaster, burnt carpet or smashed window then the tenant would be responsible for replacement or repair which would usually be taken from the initial tenancy deposit. Even if damage was accidental, the responsibility lies with the tenant, although you could come to an agreement in terms of costs depending on the circumstances. You cannot retain the entire deposit if the cost of repair, such as buying materials or paying a professional, does not equal that amount.

If a tenant informs you of any damage and offers to pay for repairs, then it is a good idea to inspect the damage beforehand and then ask for receipts for repairs or any replacement items. If you discover damaged items following the end of a tenancy then you need to discuss the costs and how this affects the deposit returned. If you feel serious damage has been caused or criminal damage, then you will need to contact the police and provide photographs for insurance purposes.

If damage occurs through accident or even a crime that was someone else’s fault, such as a ceiling comes down due to a leak in an apartment above, or the exterior is vandalised then as a landlord you can take action against the person responsible. This may either mean contacting the police and prosecuting someone for criminal damage or dealing with another tenant or their landlord to come to an arrangement to resolve an issue that has affected your property. In this instance, you should agree on an appropriate time frame to get the problem fixed. You may also need to negotiate compensation depending on how your tenant’s have been affected by the issue. If you are dealing with the police due to vandalism or criminal damage then you may be able to claim on your home insurance but you will need to obtain crime reference numbers and details of the damage.

However, if damage occurs due to a family member of the tenant then the tenant may be responsible depending on the situation, but if damage is caused by repairs carried out by someone you have instructed then you may need to compensate the tenant for any damage to their possessions or disruption.

by Cormac Henderson

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