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Can I claim from a deposit for damage to communal areas?

Question

My tenant has just moved out of the property, and in doing so has caused some damage to the communal hallway. What is the protocol with retaining any deposit in order to repair these damages?

Answer

Moving large furniture out (or in) can sometimes result in scuffs or bumps, however if real damage has been caused, especially in a communal area, it is understandable that you are a little miffed and you’re probably not alone – the other residents of the building are probably not overly impressed with the damage that your departing tenant has caused either!

So, there is no dispute that your tenant has caused damage, but do you have any comeback on them with regards to withholding any of their deposit to put the damage right? Well, this entirely depends on the terms of the tenancy agreement.

It is evident that your property is located within a larger building, and that your tenant has access to communal areas, so it is likely that these areas are mentioned within the tenancy agreement. It would be vital to check whether the terms of the agreement mention whether your tenant holds any joint responsibility for the upkeep and condition of these areas, or if they just have use of them as part of the terms of their contract.

If the tenancy agreement states that your tenant has a responsibility to maintain the condition of the communal areas, you would have the ability to claim for repairs, in the same way that you could for any damages within your property. However, if there is no obligation on the tenant for the maintenance of the communal areas, unfortunately you will find it very difficult to find the tenant liable for the damage.

If this is the case, it may be wise to consider shouldering the costs of the repairs yourself to maintain goodwill among the rest of the residents in the building and using this experience as a learning curve. Consider amending your tenancy agreement to take into account the communal areas (even just internal hallways if this is the area that you feel could case potential trouble in the future) so you don’t find yourself in the same situation again.

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