The slippery shoulders of some letting agents.

What do you think you will get from your agent by letting your property through them? Many landlords we speak to expect up to date reports on their property and its management. They want to know that their property is being looked after and cared for. They also want to know about breaches of tenancy agreements, illegal activity, or potential issues of repair and maintenance as and when it’s reported not 6 months after. We went out to a property to do a check out and inventory. It is managed through an agency and the checkout inventory they did was hand written on a piece of A4 stating no damage. The original inventory was also terrible. Just dictated notes of what there is in the property and the descriptor of the woodwork was “Sound” . The landlord called us as he could clearly see there was damage and he hadn’t been updated on his property for 16 months. The tenants had vacated the property and left it in a terrible state – far beyond reasonable wear and tear. We went and saw what we see all too often. Urine soaked carpets, holes and scratches to walls, broken sockets, damaged floorboards, the list goes on. The damage is 10 times more than the amount held on deposit. The agent (who takes their money and should have spotted these breaches in tenancy) advised them of their options

1) Put it down to experience – its part and parcel of being a landlord, repair the damage and move on (but please keep your property with us)

2) Claim off your insurance (the one we sold you that will refuse your claim and deny liability)

3) Sue the ex-tenants in a small claims court – assuming that you know where they’ve gone. ( we can’t help as we have a) not done a proper check in inventory b) not done a proper check out inventory c) don’t get involved in that kind of thing d) don’t have actual evidence e) don’t know how to; whilst you have a void and hefty repair bill to boot!

So how did the agents miss all this? The extent of damage often isn’t uncovered until the furniture is moved and place is totally empty. Some people are often good at hiding the damage whilst in situ! A good inventory clerk will find these hidden damages and forensically evidence it all and assist the landlord to pursue the ex-tenant in court for the difference between the deposit and the overall damage costs. It is all evidence based. You have to prove the damage was not there at check in and then was there at check out. This agent had either done the checks with their eyes closed or just lied through their teeth. The check in inventory was abysmal: missing off carpets, doors, walls etc. So the tenants can worm the way out of any damage to those items. You cannot claim for something that was not in an original inventory. The landlord says they’d never trust the agents again – they are partially to blame for the situation the landlord is in.

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is a government approved scheme for the protection of tenancy deposits; they offer both insured and custodial protection. They also provide fair adjudication for disputes that arise over the tenancy deposits that they protect. This article has been written in response to a landlord’s query: “How does deposit protection work if I am claiming more than the tenant’s deposit?”

At the end of a tenancy, it may be that the landlord feels there has been a breach of contract and puts in a claim for cleaning costs or redecoration from the tenant’s deposit. But what happens if the deposit doesn’t fully cover the cost of the claim?

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