Buy-to-let Landlords should avoid charging tenants for items or damage that they cannot prove, according to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC).
The body says that while landlords are well within their rights to make appropriate deductions from a tenancy deposit when a tenant breaches the terms of the tenancy agreement, such as causing damage or not paying rent, they must avoid the temptation to make unnecessary deductions.
When renting out a property, most landlords opt to take a deposit from the tenant prior to the tenancy starting, but disputes can often occur when the condition of the property is not in the same condition at the end of the tenancy.
According to the AIIC, while fair wear and tear has long been a grey area for landlords and can vary from case to case, that does not mean that landlords have the right to make deductions from deposits without being compliant with the rules.
They believe that since the introduction of mandatory deposit protection schemes, an accurate schedule of condition has become almost as important as the tenancy agreement itself.
Completing a detailed and precise inventory at the start of the tenancy means that it can be used as evidence should a dispute occur, it can also help to underline exactly what is expected of the tenant and can help avoid disagreements in the first instance.
Patricia Barber, chair of the AIIC, explains: “Tenants are becoming increasingly savvy and persistent – they won’t put up with deposit deductions that they feel are unjust.”
“Although it is only a minority, those agents and landlords who do charge for things they can’t prove should think twice about this practice. Alongside being immoral, it could cause financial and reputational damage to a business,” she added.
It is good idea for landlords to have an inventory which records the condition of the property with written notes, photographic evidence, as well as detailing the contents supplied, including fixtures and fittings.
“Photo inventories allow all parties to make a fair comparison of the property’s contents and condition at the beginning and end of the tenancy,” Barber concluded.
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