13 February 2015

Property damage tops tenant dispute claims

property damageOver the last 12 months less than 10% of UK landlords experienced a tenant dispute. The statistics come from inventory service provider, My Property Inventories and confirmed that 2014 was a relatively stress free period for British landlords. Yet despite this positive outlook, the study also revealed that when disputes did arise they usually concerned damage to property. These types of incidents accounted for 58% of problems.

Structural or cosmetic damage can be incredibly expensive to repair and can lead to a huge amount of stress and financial loss for landlords. While taking tenants to court can sometimes resolve disputes the cost of lawyers can quickly escalate to extortionate amounts.

Danny Zane, director of My Property Inventories, maintains that one of the best ways landlords can avoid falling victim to tenant disputes is to make sure that they keep meticulous track of any documentation and evidence associated with the claim. This includes things such as tenancy agreements, correspondence records and before/after photographs of the damage. Zane explains “It is so important that agents and landlords ensure they have all the right documentation and evidence to improve their chances of resolving or winning a dispute.”

Experts also urge all landlords to take a thorough inventory and carry out a property condition check before handing over the keys to new tenants – the more detailed the better! This will play a crucial role in determining who is responsible for any damage and ensuring that a landlord’s claim won’t be laughed out of court.

“Normal wear and tear is a fact of life with rental properties, but if landlords and agents wish to avoid the hassle of arguments over who is responsible for damage, they need to prepare a thorough inventory of the condition of the property, that details the condition of everything in it,” adds Zane.

While the majority of tenants are responsible and honest others will try and hide damage which means that it is essential for landlords and estate agents to carry out thorough examinations before handing over bonds. 

Another tip for minimising damage is to start off by renting out a property that is in good condition. This will encourage tenants to maintain standards and hand the house back in good condition. This includes things such as a freshly mowed lawn, clean living spaces and furniture that’s in good condition.

If all else fails and you do find yourself facing property damage caused by a tenant it pays to be covered by a comprehensive landlords insurance policy. This will reimburse you for the cost of any damage and ensure that the claims process is smooth and stress free.