Who pays for rental property damage?

Who pays for putting right damage at a rental property depends on what has gone wrong.

Landlords are responsible for damage to the fabric of the property – like missing roof slates causing damp, broken down boilers and leaks.

Tenants also have to put their hands in their pockets if they damage fixtures and fittings beyond normal wear and tear [Opens in new window].

Normal wear and tear is day-to-day deterioration of a home, like scuffs to the decor, carpets wearing and screws coming loose.

In the middle of these responsibilities is a big grey area – and who pays for damage like blocked drains, damp and condensation that regularly triggers disputes between landlords and tenants.

Tenants should pay for misusing a home

Tenants should pay for the cost of repairs if they misuse a property.

Damp and condensation is the main bugbear. Many tenants dry washing over radiators and fail to ventilate kitchens and bathrooms to let steam escape.

As a result, condensation builds up, this leads to mould on walls and the tenant complains to the landlord.

According to the latest case before the Court of Appeal (Grand v Gill [2011] EWCA Civ 554), if the damp has a structural cause, then the responsibility for repair lies with the landlord, if not, the tenant should pay.

Landlords should note that although this case offers a guide, the property was a leasehold flat and not a freehold house, so may not apply in every dispute.

Give tenants a ‘damp report’

Landlords should certainly include a ‘damp report’ with the inventory that is signed and agreed by the tenant.

Many hand over a guide to drying washing and ventilating the kitchen and bathroom in the rented home when a tenant moves in.

Issuing the guide should also help build the landlord’s case if the tenant disputes retaining the deposit to clean up damp and mould, as they have instructions on how to treat their new home.

Landlords should also make clear on handover that any repairs that result from misuse will be charged to the tenant – and clarify that this covers blocked drains.

Related reading: How to take a letting property inventory [Opens in new window]



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