Learn from the schoolboy errors that experience avoids
Your tenant has moved out, and you discover they’ve left your buy-to-let property in a mess. There are bathroom tiles that need replacing. They haven’t shampooed the carpet as it states to do so in the tenancy agreement. Curtain poles are hanging off the wall. And you wouldn’t let your dog sit on the sofa. In fact, it looks like they did after they were clearly told no pets.
You’re going to make a claim against their tenancy deposit. It should be plain sailing, especially if you follow our guide about how to avoid a tenant backlash on tenancy deposit deductions. Yet, landlords regularly have their claims thrown out. In this article, you’ll learn the most common mistakes that cause adjudicators at the Tenancy Deposit Scheme to dismiss a landlord’s claim. It’s important your claim isn’t dismissed – because if it is, there’s no ability to resubmit the claim.
How do you make a claim?
There are three parts to a claim on the tenant’s deposit:
- Outline of the claim
- Explanation of the claim
- Evidence to support the claim
For example, you may want to claim £300 for cleaning. The outline of the claim will simply be:
Next, you’ll need to explain why you are entitled to the money. Here, you’ll need to make a written explanation that details the tenant’s obligations, your obligations, and whether the tenant (and you) complied with them.
In our example, you might write:
“In the tenancy agreement, section x, clause y, it states that upon tenancy expiry, the tenant shall be responsible for ensuring that all carpets are cleaned professionally and to a standard that returns them to the condition at the start of the period of the tenancy.
The tenant failed in these obligations. The carpets were uncleaned and had oil spills in patches in the lounge and dining room, muddy footprints throughout, and had suffered from scuffing that had worn through to the floorboards below, in areas near the front and rear doors.”
Finally, you’ll need to supply evidence to support your claim.
What is the best evidence for tenancy deposit scheme claims?
A successful claim on a tenancy deposit hangs by a thread called evidence. If your evidence is weak or non-existent, your claim will be rejected. Evidence that you might submit with your claim includes:
- The tenancy agreement
- The check-in property inventory
- The check-out property inventory
- Rent statements
- Bank statements
- Estimates and quotes
- Invoices and receipts
Your evidence supports:
- How much is being claimed and for what
- Why you think you’re entitled to make the claim
- That the claim is justified and reasonable
So where do landlords most often screw up?
A mentor of mine used to call common mistakes ‘schoolboy errors’. They’re made by bad preparation or simply not knowing the rules. In others words, a foolish mistake. The top ten screw-ups are:
- No ‘before and after’ evidence – there’s a check-out inventory, but no check-in inventory.
- No allowance made for age or condition – you can’t replace old with new, and must allow for expected wear and tear.
- ‘Asking for trouble’ – not making a tenant aware of expensive items and how to look after them.
- Acting in haste – check-in done after the pre-tenancy clean, check-out done before post-tenancy clean.
- Not calculating the claim – the adjudicator doesn’t take kindly to being told to ‘see the enclosed estimates’.
- Too much evidence – yes, you can supply too much evidence. Not every single detail is needed for the adjudicator to make a decision. Sometimes less is more.
- Irrelevant evidence – The improvements you made during a tenancy doesn’t entitle you to claim new for old. The fact that the tenant was abusive doesn’t impact the claim for a new carpet.
- Providing no evidence of the quality of missing items – a coffee table can cost a few quid or a few hundred quid. Without a receipt or other evidence, the adjudicator cannot decide about value.
- Making comparisons more difficult – for example, different descriptions on inventories (bedroom 1 v front bedroom).
- Unreadable information – poor handwriting should only be practised by doctors!
Contact Ezytrac today on +44 1522 503 717and discover how investment property management will help you protect your buy-to-let against watertight tenancy agreement and shield against bad tenants.
Yours in effortless property management,
Brett Alegre-Wood MARLA MNAEA