Updated on 13th December, 2022 by Martin Astley
An estimated 400,000 landlords in the UK (29 percent) have had their property damaged by tenants in the last 12 months, according to research from the National Landlords Association.
The leading landlord organisation has also released figures that on average almost one landlord in 10, which equates to approximately 120,000 landlords, have had to make an insurance claim of some sort in the last 12 months. This has resulted in a five percent (on average) expenditure of their rental income when it comes to landlord insurance premiums.
What to do when tenants damage your property
The most imperative thing to do as a landlord is to prepare in advance in case you have to deal with a nuisance tenant; all of the correct procedures need to be put into place in order to deal with any issues in a professional and legal manner.
You must cover yourself in the tenancy agreement by declaring clauses on damages to the property. Within the clauses, you must state all types of damage that a tenant could cause and the repercussions that follow.
Consider these clauses when you are writing up your tenancy agreement:
“Maintain the property and make sure it is kept in the excellent condition that it was in prior to you moving in. This includes looking after the bathroom facilities (bath and shower, sinks, taps, toiletries, cisterns, and drainage systems) so that any drain or pipe blockages are prevented. “Fair wear and tear remains the landlord’s responsibility.”
“Leave the property at the end of the tenancy in a clean state and replace or repair all damaged items that would not be considered reasonable wear and tear.”
Report any damage to the landlord. Ensure that pipes within the property do not freeze during the winter. “You, as the tenant, will be responsible for any damage caused.”
“The tenant also has a duty to report any damage caused by fire, theft, flood, or natural disasters and provide sufficient detail for the landlord to make an insurance claim.”
“You, as the tenant, must pay for professional cleaning at the end of the tenancy.”
If the property you are renting out has any gardens or attached outdoor space, you can also choose to add a clause in regards to maintenance. This is only an option if you do not want to hire a professional to attend to the garden and if you feel the tenant should be responsible for this.
“Maintain any outdoor areas that are associated with the property.” This includes keeping the garden neat and tidy, cutting any grass (mowing the lawn), weeding, and pruning. You may only make alterations to any outdoor areas with the written permission of the landlord.
Evicting a tenant for breach of contract
If your tenant has caused serious damage to your property, you may have grounds to begin eviction proceedings.
Most tenancy agreements include clauses requiring the tenant to keep the property in a good state of repair or preventing the tenant from using the property for certain purposes. If the tenant has breached these terms, you may be able to serve a notice to quit on the tenant, requiring that they leave the property.
Making a claim for compensation in court
You can retain the tenant’s deposit to compensate you for the cost of repairs if the damage was the tenant’s fault. However, the deposit may not always be sufficient to cover the cost of repairs. If this is the case, you will have to file a claim in court for compensation.
If the damages are less than £3000 or you are happy to write off any amounts owed beyond £3000, you can use the Small Claims Court. In the Small Claims Court you won’t need a solicitor. If you wish to claim an amount greater than £3000, seek advice from a solicitor to find out what other legal options you have.
Remember, if your tenant is on benefits or has a low income, they may only be able to pay compensation back in small amounts rather than in a lump sum.
Contact the police if you believe that the tenant has carried out criminal damage to your property. Failure to contact the police could affect your insurance claim. The police cannot help you remove the tenant from the property. Only an Enforcement of Judgments official can forcibly remove a tenant from the property, and this can only be done after securing a court order.
How to prevent tenants damaging your property in the future
You can never guarantee that a tenant will not damage your property, as accidents do happen. However, by putting the correct clauses into place in your tenancy agreement (see above), a tenant will think twice and be more careful and considerate of your property.