Problems loom as more tenants do a ‘Titchmarsh’
With rental property at a premium, tenants are residing in the same property for a longer period of time and, as a consequence, want to put their own stamp on it.
However for a tenant to make any changes to a property – even if they perceive the alterations to improve it – they must get written consent from the landlord. Failure to do so could result in them paying to have the property restored to its original condition.
The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks says it has seen a wide range of changes to the outside space of properties including:
• Replacing lawns with gravel or slate
• Installing ponds and/or other water features
• Assembling outbuildings such as sheds and greenhouses
But GW LET solicitor, Rob Denman, says landlords have a right to expect the property to be returned in its original condition.
He said: “A tenant is legally obliged to maintain a rented property throughout their tenancy and return it to the landlord in the same, or similar, condition as it was initially let. This includes any outdoor space such as gardens and driveways.
“If a tenant does make alterations without your written consent and you are unhappy with these changes it is your right as the landlord to demand the tenant pays to return it to its original state.
“Alternatively you could retain the tenant’s deposit to cover the costs; a service which GW LET can assist with. However the success of your case is often dependent on the level of detail of your original inventory.
“While compiling an inventory is a time-consuming activity, it is an essential part of a landlord’s duties; neglecting it could, and is, costing landlords dearly. Recent figures from the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) have revealed landlords won just over a third (35.8%) of all disputes in 2011-12 with ‘insufficient evidence’ the primary cause for this low margin.”
GW LET offers legal advice for landlords including advising on tenancy deposit protection and disputes.