It’s the situation every landlord dreads. You carry out your tenant reference properly (using landlordreferencing.co.uk, of course), the tenants seem like nice reasonable people but 12 months later they have trashed your property…and if you haven’t got a professional inventory and supporting evidence such as photos or (even better) a video you have no hope of retaining any part of the deposit. In fact, even if it is obvious to all that the tenant is responsible for the damage, literally all they have to say is “it was like that when I moved in”. The adjudication bodies regard the deposit as the tenant’s money and so if you cannot prove otherwise you will not be awarded any damages.
It was my own experience of this as a landlord that led to me starting The Video Inventory Agency. I let one of my own properties to two young women, I’d found through a colleague. Foolishly, because they came through someone I knew, I didn’t check their references! It turned out they were lap dancers. To be fair there was never a problem collecting the rent, but on checkout, I discovered they had installed a pole in the living room (to practise their routines), damaging both floor and ceiling. They had broken the legs of several chairs (I can only imagine how that occurred), there was red hair dye over the carpet in almost every room and over several of the wall heaters, the hob was cracked, the oven encrusted with carbon and one of their boyfriends had kicked holes in a bathroom door. All in all, about £4,000 worth of damages.
Luckily, I had instructed an inventory to be done at the start of the tenancy, so it should be fine – or so I thought. As it happened, the inventory which contained about 20 photographs did not cover any of the damaged areas and I was advised that it would be pointless to try and recover damages. Great ! I was appalled that they could get away with damaging the property and get away with it. That situation gave rise to the idea of starting The Video Inventory Agency so I could make sure landlords could be protected properly.
Judging by what our clerks have experienced over the last three years, I got off fairly lightly. Here are a few of the nightmares our landlord clients have experienced:
A tenant, who had in his wisdom, decided to build a first storey extension over the kitchen without telling the landlord or obtaining planning permission. It also didn’t comply with building regulations and had to be pulled down.
A tenant who had set the kitchen on fire several months before the end of the tenancy and had never bothered reporting it.
Several cases where, on conducting an interim inspection, we have discovered a cupboard or spare room is being used to grow cannabis.
Tenants who have seen fit to re-decorate in their own inimitable style. In one case painting the ceiling black, the walls deep purple gloss and the ‘piece de resistance,’ a mural of Marilyn Manson.
Several cases where tenants kept animals in contravention of the lease and allowed them to urinate inside the house so much so that the floorboards beneath the carpet were bleached and the whole house stank.
A tenant who stole a cherry tree from the back garden. He swore he had planted it – yet it was 10 years old and he had been in the property less than a year.
Tenants who have tried to replace new flat screen TVs with older models.
It is also worth noting that people have vastly different views of what is classed as ‘clean’. For example: one female tenant did not like the fact that our clerk commented on the state of the carpet. She claimed there was nothing wrong with it and that as she had only been in the property six months there had been no reason for her to have vacuumed it during that time.
We have also had tenants who have argued till they’re blue in the face that mould or grime in a bathroom is fair wear and tear or that the carbon buildup on a hob is a natural scientific reaction and they should not be charged for cleaning it.
In fact, even if nothing is damaged, you may have to spend £200 or more on a professional clean before it can be let again. If you do not have sufficient evidence, such as a high quality video, you simply will not be able to claim that cost from the tenant.
In our experience, no matter how ‘civilized’ your tenants seem at the start of a tenancy there is no telling how they will treat your property. Our video evidence supporting the written inventory gives you the most comprehensive evidence possible and should settle any dispute instantly (as it has done in every single case that has arisen so far), then our unique dispute resolution guarantee will cover all solicitors costs to act for the landlord to recover damages.
For more information contact 0845 230 5197 (Quoting LandlordReferencing)