My tenant is moving out after two years and they have damaged the vinyl on the kitchen floor. Can I retain some of the deposit as compensation?
You can try to retain some of your deposit but your tenants may contest it unless you can explain why you are making deductions and how you have come to the final figure – plus you need evidence to back this up.
Your purchasing paper trail and early tenancy paperwork will have a bearing on your chances of getting compensation. You need to ensure you have:
In order to work out accurate compensation charges, you should know the original cost of an item, age and condition at time of check-in, average life expectancy of the item, and any extenuating circumstances. You should be able to provide written evidence of the original cost and age of the item for any compensation claim.
- Employed an independent inventory clerk
You’ll need bulletproof evidence to support a claim for compensation - detailed descriptions and time-dated photographs taken at the start and the end of the tenancy, as part of the inventory.
Don’t skimp on having an independent inventory clerk do your inventory for you. They have become increasingly important since the introduction of the Tenancy Deposit Schemes, which were brought in to make it easier for tenants to reclaim their deposits. It’s not a good idea to do an inventory yourself!
However, It is worth doing regular property inspections yourself. Try to visit once a quarter (giving at least 24 hours notice) so you can keep an eye on things, while still allowing your tenant their legal right to live in ‘quiet enjoyment’.
How to charge?
In terms of how to charge, you’ll need to:
- Establish the cause and level of damage
There is a distinct difference between normal wear and tear and damage by the tenant. If a tenant damages vinyl flooring with drag marks, deep scratches or scrapes, burn marks and stains, these are considered to be chargeable issues. However, a small number of surface scratches, nicks and minor indentations are considered to be consistent with fair wear and tear, depending on the length of tenancy and original condition.
The final compensation cost will depend on a number of factors, such as if pets and children were in the property, any previous wear and tear, quality of the items, etc. You need to bring together all the evidence to reach a safe conclusion.
When you are making your claim calculations, do not charge for betterment, or fair wear and tear. If the vinyl was old at check-in and after a two-year tenancy there is some additional damage, the law will not allow you to simply replace it and claim off the tenant for the new replacement. However, there will be some compensation allowable towards the new item.
What happens if you can’t agree?
Where a deposit compensation claim goes into dispute, the items and money involved will be passed to the arbitrator of the deposit protection scheme involved, whether a custodial or insurance scheme. Unless the parties opt to have the dispute passed to a Small Claims court, the arbitrator’s decision will be final. In order to win a dispute of this kind - and the onus is on the landlord to prove the case for compensation - good evidence is required.
Jax Kneppers, founder and CEO of How to Win Deposit Disputes explains:
“Landlords and agents who are calculating the cost for compensation charges against a tenant should ensure that the costs are reasonable and fair. They should also have a working knowledge of the accepted principles of depreciation and explain to their tenants how they have worked out the deductions. If landlords and agents can prove how they arrived at the proposed deductions from their tenants’ deposits, all parties involved will be happier to accept the decisions.”
Urban.co.uk do an inventory for £159 + VAT or Check-in and inventory for £220 + VAT. The Urban.co.uk team can assist you with your inventory requirements, and ensure that you and your property are fully protected from debate about property condition in the future. Contact us on 0800 689 9955 or email@example.com for more information.