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Tenancy Disputes and How to Avoid Them

Issues around cleanliness make up 57% of all disputes in the private rented sector with damage to fixtures and fittings included in 51% of disputes.

According to new research, cleaning issues are the largest cause for dispute among landlords and tenants while rent arrears feature in just 19%. Interior decoration makes up 32% of all disputes, and has been addressed in the report as a “growing concern”. Interior decorations disputes are tricky as it isn’t always clear which party is liable to pay for damage or rectify any problems.

 

How to Avoid Complicated Disputes

As a landlord, it’s important to recognise that during their tenant’s time at the property, light scuffs and standard wear and tear is likely to occur. The longer the period of tenancy, the more wear and tear you should allow for. But if there is considerable damage to landlord owned furniture, or for instance large nail or screw holes in walls and ceilings, this is chargeable to the tenant. A thorough inventory taken at the time of the tenancy agreement will allow you to check how the property has been affected during the course of the tenancy. Ask your tenants to provide photographic evidence of any existing damage to the property so that it is clear they are not responsible. If a dispute is raised, being able to refer to an inventory is extremely important.

 

Put it in The Tenancy Agreement

Make sure that any expectations and restrictions that you have on decorating the property are clearly laid out in the tenancy agreement. If your tenants repaint walls in non-neutral colours without getting your consent beforehand, then the tenant is responsible for paying the cost of repainting once they move out. It is useful to write this explicitly into the terms of the lease. You may also wish to include stipulations about wall decorations too. Nails, screws, blue tack and cellotape can require whole walls to be redecorated if they make small but permanent marks or damage. Slight scuffs on walls and wallpaper tears are to be expected over the course of tenancy, however if a tenant has purposely marked a wall in order to hang decorations or shelving, then it is not unreasonable to ask the tenant to pay for repairs.

For more advice and guidance on landlord and tenant responsibilities, take a look at the following resources:

Government website

Citizens Advice website

Shelter