There may be times when a tenant vacates a property, leaving it in a different condition than it was at commencement of the tenancy. This could be a result of wear and tear (which is to be expected), but also a failure on the part of the tenant to take reasonable care of the property.

In the latter scenario, what can a landlord do where property damage has occurred?

The landlord’s initial remedy will be a claim against the tenant’s deposit, however, it may not cover the full costs incurred by the landlord in reinstating the property. Therefore, the landlord will require to recover the remainder of the costs incurred via the First-tier Tribunal (Housing and Property Chamber).

For claims of this nature to succeed, the landlord will require to establish that he has incurred a loss as a result of the tenant’s failure to adhere to a contractual obligation to take care of the property. The landlord will require to lodge evidence in order to establish his loss.

An inability to produce appropriate evidence will lead to an unsuccessful claim.

How to ensure a successful claim for damages?

Below are 5 top evidential tips for landlords to avoid difficulties when pursuing a claim for damages:

  1. Lodge the tenancy agreement and identify the breached clauses.
  2. Ensure an inventory with dated photographs (preferably signed by the tenant) is prepared at commencement of the tenancy to confirm the condition of the property at move in date.
  3. Ensure a check-out inspection takes place. Landlords should give the tenant the opportunity to be present at the check-out. A check-out inventory should be produced with dated photographs. Ideally this should link back to the check-in inventory so that any damage can be easily identified. Ideally, this would be signed by both the landlord and tenant.
  4. Lodge receipts confirming the age and cost of items missing/damaged and replacement items purchased.
  5. Lodge invoices establishing sums paid to contractors to undertake work required as a result of the tenant’s breach of contract.

By following the above steps, a landlord should be in a position to produce sufficient evidence to make a claim for payment of cleaning/damages via the Tribunal if needed.