Who pays for damages before the end of the tenancy?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Who pays for damages before the end of the tenancy?

    I have a leasehold flat, managed by a professional agent.

    The agent let me know that the tenant had accidentally drilled a pipe whilst trying to put up a stair gate. The tenant did the right thing, notified the agent, who arranged a repair and reminded the tenant that they were not to drill holes without permission.

    The agent has said to me that the bill can only be withheld from the tenant's deposit at the end of the tenancy. However, this would significantly reduce the value of the deposit held. (I hold about £1000 and, whilst I haven't seen the bill yet, I imagine the repairs will be at least £500, and more if a new carpet is needed). This increases my risk as a landlord significantly, as if the deposit is largely reserved for this specific repair, the deposit then can't be used for other damages / rent underpayments at the end of the tenancy. Additionally, it could be several years before the tenant moves out.

    Are the agents correct about this? It seems odd to me.

    #2
    No, they're not right.

    They're being confused by the general "rules" about the condition of a property during a tenancy.
    For example, the tenant might damage a carpet and decide to live with it (or take it up and chuck it).
    You can't do much in practice about that during the tenancy, because the condition of the property might change before the tenancy ends - the tenant might fix the problem by then or replace the carpet - which means you haven't actually experienced any loss.

    But something like drilling a pipe (or smashing a window or breaking a door) is simply a repair that the tenant can be charged for as it happens.
    You've experienced a loss beyond normal wear and tear and have suffered a loss - the cost of the repair.

    The carpet is different, though - because if it does need replacing, your claim is based on the use of the old carpet that the tenant caused you to lose, so it won't be the replacement cost (unless the carpet was brand new).
    And the tenant may elect not to replace it, which is their right unless it's unsafe (and then you can claim when the tenancy ends).
    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

    Comment


      #3
      You can't take anything from the deposit at this stage, not until the tenancy ends.

      But this is damage that the tenant has freely admitted causing so they can be billed for the repair without involving the deposit.

      Simply sent the tenant the bill for the repair.
      If you have to pay the builder/plumber yourself and then recover from the tenant, include the invoice(s) so he can see you are not trying to inflate the cost.

      Comment


        #4
        Many thanks for this. I have fed back to the agency and await their response. The invoices will have already been paid and will automatically be deducted from my rental income (collected by the agency). If the tenant refuses to settle the invoices, do I have any recourse?

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Laurasplog View Post
          If the tenant refuses to settle the invoices, do I have any recourse?
          Yes, you can sue them in the small claims court (which is exactly what it's for).
          You can wait until the end of the tenancy and deduct it from the deposit then.
          You can serve notice and evict the tenant (depending on some other things, obviously).
          You can put the rent up (depending on some other things, again).

          I'm not recommending all of those options, just laying them out.
          Small claims court would be my preferred option if they don't pay.
          When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
          Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
            Yes, you can sue them in the small claims court (which is exactly what it's for).
            ...
            I'm not recommending all of those options, just laying them out.
            Small claims court would be my preferred option if they don't pay.
            I WOULD recommend that option. This is a tenant who wilfully damaged a property and thought it was OK to drill holes into a property belonging to someone else. They don't deserve ever to be able to rent a property anywhere. Absolute pigs.

            Comment


              #7
              Thanks all. The agents dug their heels in and said this:

              I have consulted with the NRLA this afternoon over the phone and their representative confirmed what I have stated and what [agency] holds as standard code of conduct. Please see below the NRLA’s response:

              “It is the landlord’s responsibility to keep the property in repair and is responsible for payment for these repairs. The landlord can ask the tenant to pay for these repairs if it is apparent that the tenant has caused the damage, however the tenant can refuse to pay. In this case, the charge must be taken from the deposit at the end of the tenancy. If the tenant has refused payment, the landlord can take out a claim against the tenant, however this is a lengthy process and involves fees and added costs.”

              The NRLA representative also referred me to Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985:

              “Repairing obligations in short leases.
              (1)In a lease to which this section applies (as to which, see sections 13 and 14) there is implied a covenant by the lessor—
              (a)to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling-house (including drains, gutters and external pipes),
              (b)to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences, but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity), and
              (c)to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for space heating and heating water.”


              If you are still unclear about this, please do take the time to consult with the NRLA – (0) 300 1316400. They can give advice on matters between landlords and tenants and can clear up any confusion on the legalities of tenancies.

              The tenant can be charged for the damage as it happens, however legally we cannot enforce this. Therefore, as I have stated, if the tenants refuse to pay for this repair, we must charge it to their deposit. As I said, I am able to ask the tenants to settle the invoice, however if they refuse, then the amount will have to be deducted from the tenant’s deposit at the end of their tenancy.
              I have still not been able to get in contact with the tenants as of yet, however I will keep following up on this and will come back to you with their response.

              ***

              I have no plans to go down the route of suing them! And I don't think they were pigs - just a bit silly, trying to put up a stairgate for a toddler. However, if they do not settle the invoice (which I'm happy for them to pay in instalments if necessary), we won't be renewing their tenancy.

              Thanks all for your help.

              Comment


                #8
                So you select tenants who think they can drill holes in walls, cause massive damage and then refuse to pay - and that this is OK. Best of luck with that approach.

                The agents have given you correct advice. You ask the tenants nicely to pay up. You sue the tenants if they don't pay or won't pay a much higher rent. If they really refuse to pay, I suspect you have much bigger problems in store (and I cannot see why you would regard them as "not pigs"). But it's your business decision not mine -- lots of going bust right now through bad decision making and choices.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Laurasplog View Post
                  Thanks all. The agents dug their heels in and said this
                  I would suggest that you change your letting agents.

                  First of all, they have given you the wrong advice/information.
                  Of course, you don't have to wait to use the deposit to recover a loss from the tenants.

                  Then they have attempted to support their incorrect advice with evidence that actually refutes their own assertion.
                  The landlord can ask the tenant to pay for these repairs if it is apparent that the tenant has caused the damage, however the tenant can refuse to pay.
                  Which is actually the opposite of what they told you.

                  Obviously, the tenant may refuse to pay, that's an option always available to anyone.
                  But what they told you was that your only option was to use the deposit - which clearly isn't the case.

                  And then they double down and give you more wrong information.
                  The tenant can be charged for the damage as it happens, however legally we cannot enforce this. Therefore, as I have stated, if the tenants refuse to pay for this repair, we must charge it to their deposit.
                  They are technically correct about enforcement, as agents, they can't enforce the debt.
                  But you can and should if the tenants don't pay something they obviously, in this case, owe.

                  The deposit may not be an issue for years and the last thing the agent should be suggesting is that you wait for money you are legitimately owed and/or effectively reduce the amount of the deposit available for other things that might arise.

                  You're paying them for a service, they're meant to put your interests above the tenants and their own and they're giving worse advice than a random group of people on an internet forum.
                  It raises doubts about their basic competence to do the job.
                  When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                  Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
                    I would suggest that you change your letting agents.

                    First of all, they have given you the wrong advice/information.
                    Of course, you don't have to wait to use the deposit to recover a loss from the tenants.

                    Then they have attempted to support their incorrect advice with evidence that actually refutes their own assertion.
                    Which is actually the opposite of what they told you.

                    Obviously, the tenant may refuse to pay, that's an option always available to anyone.
                    But what they told you was that your only option was to use the deposit - which clearly isn't the case.

                    And then they double down and give you more wrong information.
                    They are technically correct about enforcement, as agents, they can't enforce the debt.
                    But you can and should if the tenants don't pay something they obviously, in this case, owe.

                    The deposit may not be an issue for years and the last thing the agent should be suggesting is that you wait for money you are legitimately owed and/or effectively reduce the amount of the deposit available for other things that might arise.

                    You're paying them for a service, they're meant to put your interests above the tenants and their own and they're giving worse advice than a random group of people on an internet forum.
                    It raises doubts about their basic competence to do the job.
                    Yes. This isn't the first issue we've had with these agents (horrendous leak in one property that has been going on for LITERALLY four months, but because it's from the flat above and the property management company won't get involved, it's proving an absolute nightmare, but that's a story for another time). I am sick of having to chase them, and like you say, their first advice was to take it from the deposit rather than ask them to pay. It's on my radar to change agents, but we are absolutely in the middle of two complicated situations at the moment (this being one of them), that it's not ideal timing; I don't know if a new agent would take on properties when there were outstanding issues.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by AndrewDod View Post
                      So you select tenants who think they can drill holes in walls, cause massive damage and then refuse to pay - and that this is OK. Best of luck with that approach.

                      The agents have given you correct advice. You ask the tenants nicely to pay up. You sue the tenants if they don't pay or won't pay a much higher rent. If they really refuse to pay, I suspect you have much bigger problems in store (and I cannot see why you would regard them as "not pigs"). But it's your business decision not mine -- lots of going bust right now through bad decision making and choices.
                      They haven't refused to pay. They haven't yet been asked to pay because the agent "can't get hold of them"!

                      I don't think it's uncommon to have tenants drilling holes for pictures, shelves etc. Normally we're fairly sanguine about it, so long as they make good before they leave the property. Obviously accidents happen. This sort of thing bothers me less than someone covering up damage or never cleaning.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        The NRLA is simply saying what others here have already said, they're just saying it in a wordy, roundabout, semi-legal way.

                        As landlord you are responsible for keeping the property in repair.
                        If the tenant caused damage you can bill the tenant for getting that damage repaired.
                        If the tenant refuses to pay then you can either:
                        Wait till the tenancy ends and claim the bill from the deposit.
                        Take the tenant to court for the cost. (It has to be the landlord who does that, the agency can't do it).

                        Comment

                        Latest Activity

                        Collapse

                        Working...
                        X