OpenRent Community

Tenant from hell destroyed flat-what are my rights

Hi All,

Every now and then I was dropping a post seeking some advice how to deal with troublesome tenant (student). There was every single red flag, but due to various personal circumstances as well as me just being a pussy-landlord and believing various hard breaking stories I ended up in the following situation:

  1. Tenant moved out after 6 months willingfully. She remains in nearly 3 months worth rent arrears (over 3k) and promises will repay in 2 weeks when she gets student finances.

  2. I inspected the property and from being like new state it ended up requiring robust refurb (new matress, exchange of carpet in the corridors, sanding of the wooden floor in the living room, new washing machine as she let the black mold overgrown it completely, beyond point of repair) as well as repainting throughout and new kitchen top. Let alone flat is filthy as shit so full professional cleaning with carpet washing (the one in bedroom is ok) and upholstery cleaning is a must. Let alone she lost one set of keys so already locksmith added 450 GBP on her balance. Her deposit is 1,5K so clearly this is will be far beyond that.

I did professional inventory through third party during check in as well as third party check out and reports/documentation is reflective of it.

  1. She has a guarantor (signed contract but not deed), receives UC. She has given me her forwarding address as well as her guarantors.

Questions:

  1. How do I charge for costs of items/stuff she destroyed? There are things that changed from like new to unusable, but kitchen tops had some signs of usage but now are all damped and covered with mold. This was a brand new, new build flat. Everything is 3 years old. How do I account for the use of those that happened before she moved in? Do I need invoices or quotes? I should be raising any deductions within 10 months from move out but obviously likely those repairs will take longer than that and hence until then I won’t know final price.

  2. Can and how I claim for costs beyond her deposit? I’ll be damned if she pays arrears in two weeks, so I’m likely to raise a claim in small claims court anyways, do I just add those extra expenses, beyond her deposit?

I will eventually wfrite a memoir with all the lessons I learned the hard way from this case, but need some advice now so I can make all the right steps at the point when she just moved out.

Many thanks for your ongoing support.

Malgorzata

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So, definitely one for the books.

Most important to thing is to document everything. Take photos of how it was left, from loads of as angles, with a high quality camera.

Secondly, make sure you get several quotes for each repair and keep invoices of the cheapest professionals doing the repairs. Ask them to put in writing their advice to throw away the washing machine etc. If not, you’ll get nothing for the watching machine.

Thirdly, you won’t get excessive amounts for damages, such as £450 for a locksmith - which is why you need several quotes above. When I had an emergency locksmith out to my house (forgot the keys) I was charged £125 including the new lock, why is you non-emergency one charging you £450? You should’ve changed this yourself to save some money.

As for the money. Unless she pays up you’ll have to go to court and sue her and her guarantor. Are you certain an actual guarantor signed the contract? If so, why didn’t you have his/her address? How do you know they can pay? Red flags.

If she is a student and on UC, unless her guarantor actually has money, I would get her deposit and move on. You can’t flog a dead horse.

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Thanks Per for your advice. I really want to avoid any bad steps from now on (late wisdom I know). Given the comprehensive nature od the damages including fixtures, fittings equipment etc do I need to get several quotes for each separate items? Like for the washing machine, do I need to call out plumber to say it’s no good for use? Obviously if I call plumber to state that, clearly he will say it, but I will pay for him just to state that, which I guess I’m unlikely to recover? Or perhaps there are companies/experts that can do it comprehensively?

I did thrid party check out which has been also now updated with photos I’ve taken. It’s all against existing inventory. Would that not suffice?

I have no reason to believe the guarantor is fake. I guess if she is, then that makes it a forgery committed by my tenant?

Many thanks,
Malgorzata

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You know it now ,but do NOT believe hard luck stories Check , check and check again Do not let your heart rule your head . Potential tenants can lie as if they were born to it

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I will most certainly write my decalogue of things to never ever be repeated. Everything can be paid for with Mastercard, but my emotional demolition upon seeing my beloved flat is priceless…

I just spoke withNLRA advise line and they mentioned that each DPS have their own guidance what is average lifespan of certain items like carpets, kitchen tops, walls etc. Does any of you have a link to it? MyDeposit just outline the rule but have a specific list. I guess this is also just a guidance? Ie if the flat is relatively new and check-in report had everything in good condition, whereas now everything is more or less needs making good/replacement then although my carpet is 3,5 yrs old I guess it doesn’t mean I would ordinarily replace it at 5 yrs given it’s excellent upkeen so far (and single tenancy only for 6 months?)

I also can’t find anywhere an advice I need to get this many quotes and select the cheapest? Is it just a common sense, to avoid rip off like I had this am with locksmith?

Many thanks

Yes i can believe it… I never supply white goods or funiture …I use a moderate carpet price ,With underlay so its nice underfoot White contract bathroom suite. Paint all walls white. Not to an impecable standard, but to where I would live in it. Do you not keep a set of keys? I would not pay for a tenant who lost their keys ,they can pay for their own locksmith

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I would get three companies in to quote for all the works, but make sure they itemize all items. They can then include an advice to throw away the washing machine.

As far as the guarantor. You would obviously have contacted him/her yourself. How would you prove the tenant signed in lieu of the guarantor. It’s your responsibility to ascertain the guarantor’s identity and the fact that they know what they are signing, not the tenant’s responsibility

As long as the photos show all the damage in detail and in its surroundings then that should be fine.

*Edit. If you get one expensive quote and the tenant can show it’s excessive the judge would most likely not award you anything. Court is tougher than deposit scheme arbitrators.

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You might find this useful:

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Thank you all for your replies. As for locks she lost second set of key so as they couldn’t be accounted for they had to be exchanged (2 locks). I gather 135 gbp for rim lock+VAT is a rip off :woman_facepalming:t2:

Now just the ocean of enquiries to companies. I wish I could claim cost of my time…

I don’t know if this is your real name and photo or not, but as this is a public forum I would hide my identity if I were you in case your tenant sees is and uses your words as evidence against you…

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I would be afraid if I was her tenant, Malgorzata looks sicilian and could have a Godfather. Keep going for this rouge tenant, I would persue her all the way to court, she may be a student now but her future earnings and career could be in jeapory if a CCJ is issued, it could be the wake up call to pay up.

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Oh yes, Capo di Tutti Capi is coming :rofl:

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you have lost me on that one

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It’s “The Boss of all bosses”, a person who runs every branch of the Mafia in a region

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Did you do full reference of the guarantor?

You mentioned a guarantor, I hope you did a check on this person(s) as if they are broke you then have two people to pursue.

Always do full checks on guarantors, then make your decision.

I think , if it’s anything like here, that you will have problems to get professional quotes from workmen quick enough as they all seem flat out working. Also if they know others are quoting they may not even turn up. Checkatrade is a good contact for you if you don’t have contacts. As they are rated on feedback they normally , I say normally, better on response…

It would n’t hurt to learn some diy , like how to change locks as it’s normally pretty easy.

Re the wear and tear formulas if your property had new stuff and only a short let you should go for the full price. You do not have to go via TDS or DPS you can negotiate direct with the tenant and guarantor.

Keep good contact with the tenant and don’t allow payments to slip. Work out and negative balance, the tenant may be able to get a loan to pay you or if you know someone who can handle credit card payments for you and then give you the payment via cash or bank. It may help the tenant so they can pay by card and then pay it off as they can.

Then you contact the guarantor for any unpaid and unsettled costs. Normally the tenant would want hhis and will clear their debts.

Thanks All for replies. Yes, not doing full referencing on guarantor was big time mistake, though she’s working for the NHS which at least gives her some credible income.

Indeed getting those quote is hard work, but luckily I managed to get some contacts so should be able to finalise list. So far tenant appears quite remorseful and is willing to pay even excess for the deposit (as well as substantial areara) but I will believe in it when I see it.

You have some very good advice here. Few things to add:

  1. Do not ,repeat do not, beat yourself on taking any bad steps, late wisdom, etc. Trust me, ALL landlords go through this…that’s how we become experienced, good and fair landlords.
  2. Act, and act fairly but FAST; all the way to Small Claims, include Guarantors in your action. Copy Guarantors into all correspondence. Keep letters factual, but very polite, no name calling. Keep copies of all correspondences, Judges very much like to see these, all receipts, agreements, etc. Do not be tempted to give these to Jurges unasked.
  3. Claim for everything, including your own personal expenses and time. Remember, you will not get 100% of personal expenses; Judges usually give 50%.
  4. Do not let this episode put you off being in the property business or Tenants, they are generally good as long as thay know boundaries.
  5. If the tenants attends, good. Once the judgement is passed, ask if the tenant can pay what has been awarded to you, if they say they cannot, ask Judges for AtE, attachments to Earnings to the Guarantors.
    Good luck.
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Thanks John, this is great piece of advice.

In fact, I didn’t realise when proceeding to small claims court you can account for your time and personal expenses. How do you factor that in? Based on my usual hourly rate? Also, this time is often tricky to quantify as apart from visits on site you know you spend hours getting quotes, speaking to contractors, any advise on that?

Also, can I seek collective wisdom how to charge for the following damage. I have engineered wood in the living room, nearly 15 sqm. Floor was in good condition with no chips or other defects present (reflected in check in report). This was 6 months, single occupancy tenancy. Floor now has 2 chips (small and medium), area of cracks where the chair is as well as is permanently discoloured across the whole area (it’s visible, also reflected on the check out). Due to the type of floor it cannot be refinished (usually sanding would do the trick). Should I charge for floor exchange and deduct years used (floor is 4 yrs old so let’s say 11/15 of floor exchange?) It cannot be made good and the discolouration was caused by tenant drying wet clothes on the floor (WTF?!) so I classify this as beyond wear and tear. Opinions please?