Can I withhold any of my tenant's deposit to undertake repairs if I didn't have an inventory?

Question

My tenant has left my property in a horrible mess. They are adamant that the property was in this state when they moved in, but it certainly wasn’t! I didn’t have an inventory at the beginning of the tenancy agreement – do I have any way of withholding their deposit to sort this out?

Answer

Should you wish to pursue the case against your tenants, you would be able to take a plea to the Small Claims Court, however most cases similar to this have ruled in favour of the tenant, and it is unlikely that you would be awarded any part of the deposit to help put towards righting the damage caused by your wayward tenant.

It is also worth taking into account that if you delay getting your property back on the market in order to pursue recovering the deposit, you would delay getting a new tenant in place and settling into a new rental income – it’s worth considering which option might cost you more in the long run…

Also, do consider that you are not allowed to recover any of the deposit for any damage that could be considered ‘fair wear and tear’. This could include:

  • Fair foot-fall on carpets, or marks where furniture has stood
  • Slight scrapes and scuffs on the walls\
  • Natural fading to soft furnishings and wall coverings
  • Damage by natural forces (weathering etc.)

Once your situation is rectified, do remember to avoid this painful procedure with your new tenant by getting a comprehensive inventory in place before your tenant moves in.

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 info@urban.co.uk for more information.

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