Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Tenant Is Always Right -- Unless They Are Wrong

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Tenant Is Always Right -- Unless They Are Wrong

Article excerpt

Byline: Victoria Whitlock

DEDUCTING money from a tenant's deposit is something I am reluctant to do. It seems petty to charge them for minor breakages and damage, and I never like to end a tenancy on a sour note. But occasionally they're so thoughtless -- reckless even -- that I do make them pay.

Take Claudia. That's not her real name, but it suits her so let's stick with it. When she moved out, one of the kitchen chairs was missing, there was a cigarette burn on a dressing table, a broken drawer in the kitchen, ink splashes on the bedroom carpet and a few small tears to the wallpaper.

Not a lot of damage, I admit, but all of these could have been avoided with a bit of care. Also, she never bothered to mention any of it. If she had, if she'd apologised, I probably wouldn't have charged her a penny but the fact that she waltzed off without saying anything sort of got up my nose.

I decided to deduct some of the cost of the damage from her deposit, but deciding how much was difficult. If you hire a third party to do a check-out report they should make a note of any damage and advise on whether it's yours or the tenant's responsibility, but this is only a guide and they don't advise how much you should charge the tenant.

You can't expect tenants to pay the full cost of replacing an item, you have to consider its age and existing wear and tear when working out how much to charge them, but what one person might consider a reasonable sum someone else might think excessive. If a tenant thinks you've deducted too much from their deposit, they have a right to complain to whichever scheme you've used to protect it.

Normally I can't be bothered to charge a few quid here and there, but on this occasion I asked her for half the cost of the chest of drawers, [pounds sterling]20 for a new chair and presented her with half the bill for cleaning the ink from the carpet. …

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