My tenants left me with property damage and cleaning needed. I have told them I am retaining their deposit as the damage exceeds its value. Although they have left they say legally they have a right to access to arrange their own repairs, but I have the work nearly completed and also have a new tenant. Do they have any legal rights or is it just common sense on all parties?
First of all you should be aware that if the tenancy started after 6 April 2007 the deposit should have been protected. If you have not done that you could have problems later. There are legal penalties for not complying – see: Tenancy Deposit Protection
You tenants do not have a legal right of access to do repairs and cleaning once they have left.
In order to enforce any claim against a deposit (should it come to court action) you need good evidence of the condition of the property at start and end of tenancy. Ideally a good independent inventory with photographs, all signed and agreed by both parties. On check-out the tenant should be made aware of the defects.
You should provide your tenants with a schedule/estimates/invoices for the work done. If you do the work yourself you will not be able to claim.
In the case of a pre April 2007 tenancy where you hold the deposit, it will be up to you to justify your retention of the deposit in court if necessary. The tenants could sue you.
In the case of post April 2007 tenancies where the deposit is protected, it will be up to you to put forward your case for compensation from the deposit to the independent adjudicator. So far it is proving that only those landlord’s with “cast iron” evidence are getting any degree of satisfaction from this process.
©LandlordZONE All Rights Reserved – never rely totally on these standard answers which apply primarily to England & Wales. Before taking action or not, always do your own research and/or seek professional advice with the full facts of the case and all documents to hand.