Category Deposit

When Can A Landlord Use A Security Deposit?

There are laws and legal rights that govern how to rent a home. They need to be known by both tenants and landlords. Some of these laws will relate to the times a landlord is able to use a security deposit.

A lot of the time, tenants pay their deposit and then assume they’ll get it back at the end of their lease; they might even make plans on that assumption. However, there are circumstances in which a landlord can use a security deposit – read on to find out what they are.

Unpaid Rent

Tenants may not be able to pay rent for many different reasons. But even though some things are out of their control, missing or not paying rent is a good reason why they shouldn’t get some or all of their deposit back.

Many landlords would rather take money from the tenant’s security deposit than give them a Section 21 eviction notice. If your tenant owes more than the amount of the deposit, you can go to court and ask for the full amount to be paid back. This will cost you money in legal fees, so you’ll need to figure out if it’s worth it from a financial point of view.

Cleaning Issues

When it comes to tenancy deposit disputes, cleaning can be a big point of contention between landlords and tenants. This is mostly because we all have different ideas about what is “clean.”

But it’s a common reason why a deposit is taken out. For example, if the tenant agreed in the lease that they would pay for a professional carpet cleaning after having pets in the home, they must keep this agreement. If they don’t, the landlord can use a security deposit to pay for the cleaning. 

Bad Redecoration

If a tenant decides to redecorate the place without asking first, they may be breaking the terms of their lease. So, you might be able to take money from their deposit to fix up the room and get it back to how it was before. If you let a tenant redecorate but they do a bad job, you can also claim the cost of redecorating.

Serious Damage

Damage to the property, like broken windows or broken furniture, goes against the terms of the tenancy agreement. Because of this, landlords can use a security deposit to pay. But keep in mind that this can’t be considered normal wear and tear.

How Can An Inventory Help?

It’s fine to say that these are some of the circumstances in which a landlord can use a security deposit to pay for the problems caused by a tenant, but the burden of proof is on the landlord – they have to show that the problem occurred after the tenant moved in.

That’s why it’s so important to have a thorough, professional inventory report. This will show the condition of the property before the tenant moved in, allowing the landlord to prove any damage, neglect, or cleaning issues were down to the tenant.

Contact Looksy Inventories today to find out more.

Can You Stop Tenants Smoking In A Rented Property?

In the UK, more than 7 million people smoke. The number is going down from year to year, and there is so much information about why it’s good to stop smoking that more people will soon give up the habit.

But it’s likely that at some point you’ll find the perfect tenant for your property, except for one thing: they smoke. Even though 14.7 percent of people smoke regularly, only about 7 percent of rental properties actively welcome smokers.

If landlords had a different attitude, they might be able to rent to more people. But they have good reasons to worry about things like lingering smells, damage to furniture, and the chance of a serious fire. And it’s easy to see why this makes landlords less likely to put “smokers welcome” on their online ads.

So where do you and other landlords stand? Can you stop people from smoking in a rented property? Find out by reading on.

Laws About Smoking In A Rented Property

If you don’t want your tenants to smoke, there aren’t many laws to back you up.
Under the Health Act of 2006, smoking was banned in all places that were “open to the public” as of April 2007. It applies in many places, like bars, restaurants, and workplaces, and its goal is to make smoking less harmful.

But it only applies to privately rented property if it’s an HMO. It can’t be used to enforce a no-smoking rule in a self-contained apartment or house.

If you rent out HMOs, you can say that smoking in a rented property isn’t allowed in places like hallways, kitchens, and bathrooms that are used by everyone. You’ll also need to put up the right signs to let tenants know what they need to do.

Since your decision will be backed by the law, it should be easy to make it happen. If you do let people smoke in these places, you will be breaking the law and could be charged or given a fine by your local government.

So, landlords have every right to ask tenants who break this law to leave if they don’t follow it.

Smoking In A Rented Property And Tenancy Agreements

So, if you don’t want to allow smoking in a rented property but there are no rules to back that up, what are your options for places that aren’t HMOs? It all depends on your lease and how much you trust your landlord.

You can take steps right from the start of marketing your property to keep tenants from smoking: Make it clear in all of your ads that you will only rent to people who don’t smoke.

During the viewing, look for signs that the potential renter smokes, or ask your agent to look for them. Check for yellowed fingers and teeth in addition to the obvious smell of tobacco, which can be hard to hide.

Remind everyone who comes to look that smoking is not allowed, and pay close attention to what they say. Some people may lie a little bit.

Add a clause to the rental agreement that says tenants and visitors are not allowed to smoke anywhere on your property.

Even if you try hard, it may not help. The big problem here is how to make it work. So, what can you do if your tenant breaks their word and doesn’t follow the rules of the lease?

The first thing you can do is politely remind them of their promise and ask them to stop. Invite them to smoke outside if you want to keep things as good as possible with them.

If this doesn’t work, you can use one of the fault-based reasons for getting rid of an assured tenancy: Ground 12: The tenant broke one or more of the tenancy agreement’s rules, except for the one that said they had to pay rent. But this can only be enforced if a court decides to do so, which isn’t likely to happen if the tenant pays rent on time every month and would be expensive.

If your renter won’t stop smoking, you could use their security deposit to pay for any damage they cause. You might want to spend it on a deep clean by a professional to get rid of any stains on the walls and furniture. For this to work, there would need to be a thorough inventory at the beginning of the tenancy.

You could also raise their rent at the end of a fixed term to make up for any damage that occurred from someone smoking in a rented property.

What About E-Cigarettes?

Even though the number of people who smoke is going down, the number of people who vape is going up. Over 3 million people in the UK now use e-cigarettes.

More and more people who used to smoke are now vaping, but can they do it in your home? There is no law that applies, so it’s up to you if you want to let it happen or not. E-cigarettes don’t have the same bad smell or fire risk as regular cigarettes because people inhale nicotine in the form of vapour instead of smoke.

You can say in the lease that it’s not allowed, just like you can say that smoking isn’t allowed, but it will be harder to explain, find, and prove. And if you do let them do it but don’t let them smoke, you might turn off your tenants who smoke because they have to go outside to do it.

To let people smoke or not to let people smoke. Only the landlord can tell you the answer to that question. If you want to keep your property smoke-free, the best thing you can do is find an honest tenant who won’t be smoking in a rented property.

What Happens When Losses Are Claimed In Excess Of The Deposit Value?

A landlord’s or their agent’s losses after a tenancy may surpass the deposit value in rare cases. When a landlord or letting agency seeks to collect more than the deposit value, the landlord and agent may believe that moving to court is essential. However, it’s actually essential to understand that litigation is always a last resort. 

Even if the alleged losses certified by an inventory service business exceed the deposit value, it may be wise and cost-effective for a landlord or agent to first use an Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) service and then recover the balance in court.

By doing so, a landlord and agent have demonstrated that they have made all reasonable measures to avoid going to court and, as a result, have complied with the Overriding Objective of the Civil Procedure Rules. In such cases, an adjudicator’s review of the deposit claim would generally end after the deposit monies are depleted.

Tenant’s deposit, inventory check-out evidence, and landlord’s claim

For example, if the deposit value was £500.00 and there were valid claims for cleaning (£150.00), redecoration (£350.00), and tenancy rent arrears (£300.00) based on the checkout inventory report, an adjudicator cannot award more than the £500.00 deposit value, and the adjudication will end before all claims are resolved.

A landlord may have little choice in such a case but to seek compensation for their additional losses in court. Some schemes will enable landlords or renting agencies to choose the order in which claims should be evaluated; as a result, landlords and agents should be conscious of which claims they want the ADR service to consider first and which claims they want the ADR service to consider last.

A complex damage dispute based on an independent property inventory report, for example, might be resolved through ADR, but an easy rent arrears claim could be resolved in court after the deposit funds are depleted. In any case, a landlord or renting agent must consider the expenses, dangers, and time involved with court procedures and determine whether it is economically or sensible to proceed.

deposit value
Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

Clear inventory checkout evidence

Suing a tenant who does not have any money may be futile since, while a landlord or agent may be successful in getting a judgment, the terms of payment may require the tenant to pay back the judgment over a long period of time. In contrast, if a tenant desires to file a counterclaim, the only method to do so is through the courts, as most ADR firms would not accept counterclaims against the landlord or agent. This is because deposit protection ADR businesses only deal with claims against deposits.

For example, once an inventory clerk has produced an inventory check report outlining tenant obligations, a tenant may seek to file a claim against the landlord or the agent for failing to preserve a deposit. Such a claim would not be considered by an ADR firm and would have to be decided by a judge.

In any instance, the parties would be advised to seek legal counsel before proceeding to court.

Your Rental Property: How To Make It Feel Like Home

Even if you don’t own the house you live in, you want it to feel like your own. As a tenant, this might be difficult at times because you must follow the rules that come with renting. But making your rental property feel like home can be done, and it should be done. With that in mind, here are some pointers to help you make your rental seem more like home.

Add Plants

Greenery can breathe new life into a space. They brighten and bring warmth to your rental property. They may also offer the additional benefit of eliminating toxins and purifying the air around them. You don’t need to have a green thumb for your indoor plants to thrive; there’s plenty of low-maintenance vegetation available.

your rental property
Image by Alina Kuptsova from Pixabay

Use Furniture With Added Storage

We are always in need of more space and your rental property is no different. When a home is cluttered and messy, it can feel uncomfortable and be a constant reminder that this is someone else’s house. Purchasing furniture with built-in storage is a terrific method to store all of the extras that don’t have a home. For that extra space, consider employing coffee tables and footstools with hidden storage. Cabinets can provide more enclosed storage, and bed frames with storage under the mattress or on the sides are also available.

Have Rugs

Rugs are an excellent addition if you are dissatisfied with the flooring in your rental property but can’t change it because the landlord says no. They’re also a great way to personalise a room’s decor. They can offer colour and personality, or they can tone out the room, depending on your needs. A wide rug in the lounge room could provide additional seats on the floor while also making the space feel cosier. If your room is missing in colour, Persian rugs might be a terrific way to bring it back to life.

Install Mood Lighting

Make good use of lighting! Whether it’s a giant, free-standing lamp in the living room or smaller lights in the bedroom, these can add personality to any space. Keeping larger lamps in a room’s corners reduces the disruption caused by going from one area to another.

Upcycle What You Already Have

Sometimes the items you already own may use a facelift. Consider painting or decorating existing furniture. This will give your rental property a new atmosphere without the need for new furniture. When relocating or decorating existing furniture, take care not to harm or interfere with the property.

your rental property
Image by AntoMes from Pixabay

Take Pride In Your Rental Property

Take pride in your rental property and treat it as if it were your own. This will only help you as a tenant in the future because of your excellent rental history. Taking care of your home also reduces the possibility of losing your deposit when it comes time to move out. As expert inventory clerks in Kent, Surrey, East Sussex, and West Sussex, Looksy Inventories knows that looking after your rental property goes a long way when it comes to your landlord agreeing to return your deposit, and the inventory report being a positive one.  

How To Find The Perfect Property Inventory Clerk

Whether you’re a seasoned or inexperienced landlord, hiring an inventory clerk is a necessary cost. Even if your budget is tight, an inventory clerk should be considered an essential element of the process and could end up saving you a significant amount of money in the long run. But how do you go about finding the perfect property inventory clerk, and where should you look?

perfect property inventory clerk
Image by Schluesseldienst from Pixabay

How To Recognise A Good Clerk 

It’s quite easy to discover an inventory clerk online, but hiring the first one you see could be a costly error you’ll soon regret. Even if you prioritise cost-effectiveness, the cheapest choice may not give what you’re paying for.

A perfect property inventory clerk will pay close attention to detail and have a thorough understanding of their work. It is not enough to simply mention everything in your property; it is also critical that the report be formatted in accordance with industry standards. If it does not, a court may refuse to accept the inventory as evidence in the event that it is required.

When creating an inventory report, a clerk should include everything, right down to the door handles and locks. This immaculate attention to detail will supply you with all the information you need to prove the condition of the property and its contents.

Where To Find Your Perfect Property Inventory Clerk

Starting with word of mouth is usually a wonderful place to begin. If someone you trust has previously utilised an inventory clerk, their personal recommendation may be all that is required. If you don’t know someone who can recommend a clerk, you’ll have to do some further research on your own.

Looksy Inventories could be your perfect property inventory clerk. We certainly tick all the boxes. We are:

  • Dedicated
  • Expert
  • Professional 
  • Reliable 
  • Cost-effective
  • Local 
  • Experienced 

For more information, including our pricing, please don’t hesitate to get in touch

Top Reasons Leading To Deposit Disputes

Deposit disputes are the last thing either tenant or landlord wants at the end of a tenancy. The tenant wants their money back, and the landlord doesn’t want to have to withhold it because doing so means there must be a problem in the property that the tenant is responsible for, and that the deposit is going to have to pay for. It’s bad news all round. And this is why an inventory is always so useful; disputes may still happen, but they can be cleared up a lot more quickly and everyone can move on. 

So what is the biggest reason that leads to deposit disputes? Perhaps unsurprisingly, its cleanliness. Next in line is damage, and the third reason for landlords to withhold the deposit is having to redecorate. What you might not expect to find is that the fourth reason is gardening problems and that rental arrears come in way down the list at number five.

deposit disputes
Photo by Oliver Hale on Unsplash

Increase In Deposit Disputes 

Between April 2019 and March 2020, there was a definite increase in deposit disputes, up by five percent on the previous year. This could, of course, be because more tenancies were taken up during that year than the previous year, meaning that more tenants were leaving properties too. 

The problem is often not down to neglect or an intent to cause any harm or problems; it’s simply that, particularly in the case of the cleanliness of the property, that the inventory was not clear (assuming there was an inventory at all) about exactly what the state of the property was. Some inventories rely far too much on photographs, for example, whereas a photo along with a description is much more helpful. 

What’s even more helpful is ensuring there is a proper check-in and check-out; any queries can be answered and any doubts put to rest. Although it might take a little more time, although it might cost a little more money, it does mean that deposit disputes are much less likely. 

Contact Looksy Inventories Today 

To put your mind at ease, contact Looksy Inventories today. We understand the entire inventory process and produce easy-to-read, detailed reports that both landlord and tenant can agree to before the tenancy begins. 

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