Best way to get tenants to agree a call on their damage deposit?

Best way to get tenants to agree a call on their damage deposit?

10:10 AM, 5th March 2014, About 10 years ago 4

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Hello all, I need a bit of advice on how best to get my vacated tenants to pay for a slightly cracked basin, stained mattress and dirty walls which I think are all beyond anybody’s reasonable expectation of fair wear and tear. They were good tenants and were in the property for three years and only moved out very very recently.

I’m going to get quotes from a workman and a cleaner to calculate the costs of putting things right but there is no real urgency from my side as another tenant was happy to move in before I get the work done. I do realise that I only have 14 days to deal with the return of the deposit though. 

Since it’s the first time I’ve had deal with a deposit refund I’d like to ask whether a quote for now is sufficient enough to get tenants to agree to the deduction from the damage deposit.

I’d really appreciate experienced landlord’s advice.

Thank you.


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Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

10:24 AM, 5th March 2014, About 10 years ago

Hi Kim

I haven't had to deal with a dispute of deposit refunds in 25 years.

However, I know several landlords who have and all of them say the same thing, it's hell. The burden of proving the damage falls upon the landlord. It's like going to Court, you have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the damage you are claiming for was caused by your tenant.

The best piece of advice I can offer is to come to an amicable settlement with your former tenant. Deal with them in the way that you would like to be dealt with.

Are they aware that you intend to claim for the damages and what have they said about this?

If they are not aware then I suggest a discussion with them should be your starting point. The more you talk to them, the better chance you have of getting them to own up and pay up. Remember, you only have 14 days to resolve this.

If you can't agree you will need to convince a dispute resolution that you deserve to claim on the tenants deposit. Rem,ember, it is their money until proven otherwise, not yours.

Most landlords lose dispute resolution claims because they didn't have a professional inventory completed at check in and check out. Therefore, work on the basis that you will lose your case if it goes before an adjudicator and that anything you can negotiate is better than that. Also bear in mind the time and stress that you will put yourself under if you do go to dispute resolution. It is very rare to meet a landlord who will tell you that it's worth the effort.

Be nice, be lucky 🙂

Yvette Newbury

14:32 PM, 5th March 2014, About 10 years ago

Where is the deposit held? If it is registered with mydeposits so you physically hold the deposit monies, then calculate the refund less the amount for the quote you have and refund the balance to the tenants with a covering letter/email explaining why you withheld funds and forwarding a copy of the quote. Any queries and they will get back to you, but as you have already refunded the majority of their deposit and they are satisfied with the quote then that may be the end of it.

We have dealt with our deposits in this way since 2007 and have received only 2 queries which we happily answered and no other issues to date. This has included charges for stained mattresses and dirty walls beyond w+t as evidenced by the check-in inventory that they signed (when these issues were not evident).


14:35 PM, 5th March 2014, About 10 years ago

Mark's advice is sound, though I'm afraid many landlords also question the worth of having an inventory done: unless every square inch of the property is photographed at the same time, how will an inventory clerk's assessment of "minor marks" on a wall or hob or sink ever pass a judge's scrutiny? What's the point of an inventory when "fair wear and tear" is an undefined concept, behind which tenants prepared to fight in court can always hide, and the judges seem always to take their side?

I recently has a tenant move out of an HMO after two years, leaving most of it unhoovered, (removeable) marks on the wall, an uncleaned kitchen cupboard and at least two estate car's worth of packaging and other debris to remove. I took Mark's approach, had a gentle moan at the tenant about the packaging but said nothing about the cleaning, and he apologised, agreed to a £50 deduction from his deposit for rubbish disposal, and I used £20 of this to pay my cleaner to do some overtime at the house.

In my experience though, the odd stain on a mattress is pretty much par for the course in a furnished house, and very hard to fight over given the replacement cost of mattresses. I assume you are taking a 10% annual "wear and tear" deduction on your tax return, which does soften the blow of regular replacement of items like mattresses or a lick of paint on a dirty wall.


15:34 PM, 5th March 2014, About 10 years ago

If your case is backed with an inventory be honest and fair but firm on all matters that are not the acceptable wear and tear.

I never give into the type of thing that you have quoted but always overlook minor matters and barring one tenant that disputed damage all others have agreed to deduct costs from their deposit.

The one that didn't agree gave in prior to dispute resolution.

I don't understand why landlords want to wave goodbye to their hard earned money.

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