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The Dirty Truth Behind Tenant/Landlord Disputes

In this three-minute read, we look at how landlords
can protect themselves from getting caught up in the most common cause of
end-of-tenancy disputes.

When
a tenancy comes to an end, one issue more than any other causes disagreements.

And
it’s not holes in walls or missing rent payments that take the number one spot.

According
to recent data* cleaning is the most common cause of strife.

Yes,
that’s right, grotty carpets, greasy ovens and filthy loos most often turn out
to be the bone of contention between tenant and landlord.

The
latest figures (which cover the year up to March 2020) show that there were
34,993 disputes in 12 months (a slight drop from the previous year).

Of
these disputes, cleaning was cited in 42% of cases followed by:

  • Damage to the property (41%)
  • Redecoration (39%)
  • Gardening (23%)
  • Rent arrears (14%)

So
why does cleanliness (or lack thereof) spark so much antagonism? The problem is
everyone has a different definition of what constitutes “clean”.

A
landlord may be looking for a professional standard of cleanliness, while the
tenant may think waving a cloth over a surface or two is enough.

As
most tenants want their deposit back, they almost always vociferously argue
that they have left the property in the same condition as it was at the start
of the tenancy.

The
only way a landlord can push back if this isn’t the case, is by having a clear
and definitive inventory that includes proof of the property’s condition.

The
inventory should include photographs and videos (dated, of course) and written
descriptions of the condition of the property. (Make sure you cover areas that
might be the subject of dispute, such as inside the oven or the shower.)

A
good inventory serves two purposes:

1) It
gives the tenant a clear understanding of what is expected of them. They know
you’ll be checking at the end of the tenancy, so they are more likely to take
good care of the property.

2) If
you do end up in a dispute, you have the inventory to back up your side of the
story. An inventory that is too general and lacking in detail, means it will be
almost impossible to make your case.

With
the issue of cleaning – as with pretty much all other aspects of being a
successful landlord – it all comes back to communication.

Being
open and clear with your tenant right from the beginning (and giving them a
copy of the inventory) will set the right tone.

Regular
inspections throughout the tenancy will maintain the momentum, and a friendly
but straightforward chat just before the final inspection will leave little
room for confusion.

If
you’re a landlord and have any questions about
managing a tenancy, get in touch with us here at Holland Properties, we’re happy to
help.

* Data
from The Dispute Service – an organisation that offers a landlord/tenant
resolution service – was analysed by Decorus for Sage, property management
software providers.

COPYRIGHT Holland Properties 2021

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