Welcome!

Blog Feed Post

Withholding the deposit for tenant damage

Properties get damaged - even if they are looked after well - so landlords need to know how to assess damage

by .

Damage to property is inevitable. This is one reason why landlords might choose to take a deposit from their tenant – to hold as security against repair costs – but what constitutes property damage is a greyer area than you might think.

Property damage law

Broadly speaking, property damage law holds that damage to rental property can be caused in one of three ways: negligence, wilful destruction or an ‘act of nature’. Unless your tenant is also a powerful druid, most landlords interpret the last one as another popular phrase: ‘fair wear and tear’. Essentially, the natural passage of time and decay eventually takes its toll on even the sturdiest of furnishings.

Criminal damage

By definition, criminal damage constitutes malice; there has to be evidence that your tenant has deliberately and maliciously damaged your property. In the rare occasions that this crops up, this is usually because the tenant and landlord didn’t part on the friendliest of terms, and history has thrown up some real horror stories.

It’s possible to take out a landlord’s insurance policy for things like criminal damage, but there are often exclusions in such policies that can catch landlords unaware. Read our guide to insuring against criminal damage for more information on common exclusions.

Property damage caused by tenant neglect

This is where the distinction blurs a bit. Though criminal damage can still be hard to prove (I’ve seen some shelves put up in a manner I’d consider ‘criminal’, but wouldn’t necessarily involve the civil courts), the definition is at least clear-cut.

What distinguishes between damage and fair wear and tear is usually the element of neglect, but this can be hard to define, and is the source of many deposit disputes. After all, whilst a tenant who has spilled red wine on a shag carpet has been neglectful, is the same true of a tenant who has allowed rust to build up on the pipes under the sink?

The length of the tenancy has a lot to do with it. If a tenant has only been in situ for six months, a coating of scuffs and stains on previously immaculate laminate flooring will be harder to justify than if they had lived there for a number of years.

I recommend taking a detailed inventory and communicating clearly with your tenant what state you expect your property to be in when you take it back. I also recommend referring to the free online guide published by MyDeposits – Wear and Tear – What is Fair? – when examining a property your tenants have recently left.

Can I still withhold the deposit if it’s not criminal damage?

Withholding the deposit to pay for criminal damage is both allowed and encouraged. Your tenant isn’t likely to dispute it if they know that the damage was deliberate, but if they do, you might be called upon to prove the malice behind the damage.  The same will be true if the deposit doesn’t cover the damage and you choose to take the tenant to court for damages.

Wear and tear allowance for furnished properties

If you let out your property furnished, you can offset a ‘wear and tear allowance’ against the income tax you pay. For the year, you need to decide whether this will be:

  • 10% of the net rent to cover gradual dilapidation; or
  • The net cost of replacing an item (not the original cost)

See our expert guide to tax for more information on the tax that buy to let landlords have to pay.

More Stories By TurnKey Landlords

Amelia Vargo is an online marketing executive for CT Capital. Amelia writes for Turnkey Mortgages, Turnkey Landlords, TurnKey Bridging, TurnKey Life and Commercial Trust.

Latest Stories
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Codigm is based on the cloud and we are here to explore marketing opportunities in America. Our mission is to make an ecosystem of the SW environment that anyone can understand, learn, teach, and develop the SW on the cloud," explained Sung Tae Ryu, CEO of Codigm, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
"CA has been doing a lot of things in the area of DevOps. Now we have a complete set of tool sets in order to enable customers to go all the way from planning to development to testing down to release into the operations," explained Aruna Ravichandran, Vice President of Global Marketing and Strategy at CA Technologies, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
Enterprises are moving to the cloud faster than most of us in security expected. CIOs are going from 0 to 100 in cloud adoption and leaving security teams in the dust. Once cloud is part of an enterprise stack, it’s unclear who has responsibility for the protection of applications, services, and data. When cloud breaches occur, whether active compromise or a publicly accessible database, the blame must fall on both service providers and users. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben Johnson, C...
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...
Data scientists must access high-performance computing resources across a wide-area network. To achieve cloud-based HPC visualization, researchers must transfer datasets and visualization results efficiently. HPC clusters now compute GPU-accelerated visualization in the cloud cluster. To efficiently display results remotely, a high-performance, low-latency protocol transfers the display from the cluster to a remote desktop. Further, tools to easily mount remote datasets and efficiently transfer...
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...