Past tenants admit to smoking in property?

Past tenants admit to smoking in property?

9:28 AM, 17th January 2023, About 9 months ago 11

Text Size

Hello everyone, My previous tenants who left my flat on 9th January have admitted on email to smoking in the flat. This is in breach of their AST and they are aware of this.

What are my rights here?

Am I able to deduct the cost of re-decorating and replacing a smoke ruined sofa from their deposit?

Even though they have admitted smoking, they are not accepting that the flat needs redecorating.

The deposit is with the DPS.

If I go to dispute, am I right in saying they do not have a leg to stand on?

Thanks in advance for any advice.


Share This Article


Jim Egan

10:43 AM, 17th January 2023, About 9 months ago

Hi Tom,
As I maintain my properties in excellent decorative order, I would certainly be making a claim for reasonable redecorating cost and for the cost of deep cleaning carpets and soft furnishings in the affected areas. The amount of 'reasonable costs' would of course, need to reflect the cost of the actual damage caused. The length of the tenancy would also be a factor to consider, the longer they have smoked in the property, the more likely the decor would have damaged. I would also include the costs of any additional void period caused by carrying out the work.

Paint a small section of wall and ceiling with the original colours used and take good quality photographs of the contrast between the original paintwork and the smoke stained paintwork.


Frank Jennings

10:49 AM, 17th January 2023, About 9 months ago

I would have thought that this comes under breach of contract. Your case would be stronger if you have an AST that mentions no smoking, and maybe possible costs involved if they do smoke in your property.
Convincing a judge that it is reasonable to make this claim, maybe by small claims court is another problem, as nowadays Landlords are seen as the villains, profiteering on poor people. I would include photos of the smoke damage, and stains if any. Of course you can't bring the smells to court but you can bring a bill for cleaning costs to remove the smell of tobacco smoke.
I would say there is a chance you can win, but it costs to make the claim. Then it's a question of will they pay up if you win, plus court costs? If they dont, you will need to visit court again and maybe get an attachment to earnings etc.
All in all, it's a long and stressful path you will have to walk, unless you are very lucky and live in an area where the courts are sympathetic. Do you have insurance that might cover your costs?
One thing is that if you do win you might get them with a CCJ that is often an effective tool to ensure you get paid , as it will affect their financial standing. Sorry if this dosent help much. Maybe someone else can make some helpful suggestions?
Good luck anyhow!

Laura Delow

11:05 AM, 17th January 2023, About 9 months ago

The following case study may be of help:-
Deposit Details:
Deposit £1100.00
Disputed amount £850.00
What happened?
The tenant said:
They only smoked in the property occasionally and the windows were always open during this time
The issues highlighted by the checkout clerk should be considered as fair wear and tear after living in the property for almost three years
The agent responded, saying:
The property was newly decorated at the start of the tenancy
The walls were discoloured to numerous places at the end and the property smelt of smoke
The only way the landlord could get rid of the smell and to get the decoration back to its original condition was to re-paint the property
What evidence was provided?
Tenancy agreement, independent check-in and checkout report, communications, invoice, contractors’ estimates.
What was decided and why?
The email communications and tenant comments showed that the tenant did smoke in the property during the tenancy, which was in breach of the tenancy agreement
The landlord provided an invoice to show that the property was newly decorated two weeks before the tenancy started, and the check-in report also confirmed the decoration was in excellent order
The checkout report showed that in the bedroom and living room the paintwork was heavily discoloured to areas and there was a strong smell of smoke. From the report findings, the adjudicator found that deterioration, exceeding fair wear and tear had occurred to these two rooms
The estimate was to redecorate the property throughout. The contractor who provided the estimate advised that one fresh coat of paint would be enough to remove the odour and discoloration
While an estimate was provided to redecorate the whole property, the evidence only showed two areas to be returned in a worse condition, as a result of smoking. No other evidence was provided to show that the other areas needed to be redecorated because of the tenant’s actions
The adjudicator found it reasonable to allow the landlord to retain part of the deposit to paint the living room and bedroom only, making an allowance for fair wear and tear for the time the tenant lived at the property, to avoid betterment
Tenant: £625.00
Landlord: £225.00
How can you avoid this happening in future?
Even if there is a breach of the tenancy agreement, the evidence must show that that the breach has resulted in damage to the property, incurring a loss
It’s always important to consider whether the amount claimed reflects the work needed as a result of the tenant’s breach
Fair wear and tear must always be considered for the length of the tenancy as the landlord is unable to be put in a position of betterment


11:08 AM, 17th January 2023, About 9 months ago

Do you have good inventory photos from the start of the tenancy? If not you wont get much joy from DPS.
If you do, just bear in mind that the amount you try and claim from DPS will be reduced to account for 'wear and tear' during that period so you wont get the full amount. The expectation is that you would have had to redecorate to some extent between tenancies anyway, and they reason that a LL can't be better off after a claim than he otherwise would have been.
Make sure you get 3 itemised quotes from decorators listing for example "pre-decoration nicotine cleaning, stain blocking undercoat, final overcoat etc" as this will also help support your claim that there is nicotine staining.


11:44 AM, 17th January 2023, About 9 months ago

Sofa will depend on its age. If more than 7 to 8 years it's due for replacement anyway. If less then you can charge pro rata so if four years old then 50% replacement cost of similar item. But this could be disallowed by the deposit service.

If it's been charged to be professionally cleaned then likewise the deposit service may disallow your claim.

You are very optimistic if you really think they don't have a leg to stand on. A lot will ride on the quality of the inventory.


13:30 PM, 17th January 2023, About 9 months ago

Since I switched to using the Insurance deposits rather than the Custodial deposits I’ve found making justifiable deposit deductions in agreement with the tenant much more straightforward. I found under the Custodial schemes. Some of the Custodial schemes almost encourage the tenants to lodge a adversarial deposit deduction objection claim in the way they word their paperwork.

Martin Roberts

21:36 PM, 17th January 2023, About 9 months ago

Do mention the smoking if asked for a reference.

Frank Jennings

23:55 PM, 18th January 2023, About 9 months ago

Well this just explains why so many LL are leaving the PRS, which seems to be what the govenment want. What with section 24, and 130 new pieces of legislation, CGT allowances drastically reduced, it's all but destroying the PRS, and making it practically impossible to make any profit at all, what with costs of everything going up, high levels of inflation, and more and more tax. I cant see the new EPC rules likely to come in to effect, to help much either. I'm just a small LL with just 3 properties let, but I'm forever paying out trying to keep up with the new rules coming out. I'll be selling up in the future, as it's just not worth the trouble anymore. I expect the tax man will be glad of the CGT he'll collect after the sale too, to help to pay for the next round of MP's pay rises that are "independently evalulated" by govenment paid assessors. When the Tsunami wave of tennants with nowhere to rent and cant afford to buy hits, it will be everyone running to the council for a home, and there won't be any available. What will they do then?

Ian Simpson

12:52 PM, 21st January 2023, About 8 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Frank Jennings at 18/01/2023 - 23:55
I had a family which did this .... pretty much destroyed a beautiful three bedroom flat with smoking, babies drawing all over the walls, cats urinating and ripping up the (newly laid) carpets, about £3500 cost to restore it to what it was. TDS took eight months to award me £248.

Barely worth the effort....

Jessie Jones

0:39 AM, 22nd January 2023, About 8 months ago

Deposit schemes are not interested in the costs of making good from smoking, pets, fry-ups or a failure for tenants to use bins instead of the carpet. This is why it is important to do prospective tenant viewings yourself. The tell tale yellowed fingers, smell of smoke on the clothes, an apparent age older than their passport. And walk them back to their car at the end of the viewing. A smoker is likely to smoke in their car as well. Check for grubby dog hairs and footprints on the back seat, McDonalds rubbish in the footwell.
If you use an estate agent you miss the opportunity to spot things that don't get said on a tenancy application.

1 2

Leave Comments

In order to post comments you will need to Sign In or Sign Up for a FREE Membership


Don't have an account? Sign Up

Landlord Tax Planning Book Now