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What to do if tenant did not sign check-in inventory?

Hi,

I have received notice from my tenant giving notice to end tenancy. The tenant was emailed a check-in inventory with link to download of images of the property at the time the check-in inventory was done with 7 days to return this. The tenant did not reply to this but did acknowledge to my wife verbally in the 1st week of the tenancy that they were still moving and that they needed more time but still not return this. I will be using this inventory for the checkout as all my pictures and videos of the property are date stamped. Will this be OK? I have been to the property to do inspection earlier on in the tenancy and have noticed felt tip marks on walls as well as other damage which I had painted before tenancy. Is this considered fair wear and tear or damage?

The below is all personal opinion - not legal…

I always paint my walls with Silk, so that water based felt-pen marks can be wiped off.

I also do a manual written inventory backed up by photos and get it signed after walking through the key points with the tenant before handing over keys.

Personally, I dont think photos alone, taken prior to tenancy, will in itself count as evidence. In your situation, I would ask the tenant to cooperate in signing the inventory or risk “further action” although what that further action would entail depends on the content of the tenancy agreement and whether they are in breach having not signed the inventory.

Mark on the wall - difficult - if water based it should wash off. If they have kids there is going to be all sorts of dings and scrapes and muck by the end of the tenancy which if silk and/or glossed should wipe off or resist, but if Matt then will require painting. Feels like it is / is not wear and tear depending on scale and weather a sharpie was used as opposed to water based - don’t quote me I’m not an expert.

The following narrative precedes my Inventories and is plagiarised from the local council for a council tenant agreement. This might help?

What is ‘fair wear and tear’?

To avoid confusion for both landlord and tenant, here is guidance as to what we feel constitutes fair wear and tear.

Any claim for damages must be made in writing within 28 days of the tenancy ending. All claims should be accompanied by evidence of the claim.

Decorations have an accepted life expectancy. However there may be circumstances where excessive wear and tear requires compensation to make good, e.g. numerous nail or picture pinholes, torn wallpaper, gouges in walls/woodwork etc.

To avoid accusations of betterment against us, the landlord should not end up, either financially or materially, in a better position than we were at the commencement of the tenancy, allowing for fair wear and tear. The allocation or apportionment of any costs, charges or compensation for damage must take into account all the factors relating to

(a ) Fair wear and tear
(b ) The most appropriate remedy and,
(c ) That the landlord should not end up either financially or materially in a better position then he/she was at the commencement of the tenancy or as he/she would expect to be at the end of the tenancy having considered (a) and exercised (b).

Hi,

Thank you for your reply and honest advice. The walls which I noticed had felt tip markings were painted with silk paint. There are some walls that are Matt also. So would it be wise to email check in inventory to tenant so they can review this giving them time to rectify any damage prior to them leaving the property? Should the tenant wipe the marked walls clean just as it was when they started the tenancy?

They should always try to leave it in the state it was given to them excepting wear and tear - in which case yes it should be wiped and/or painted as it will otherwise be part of cleaning bill or redecoration bill you could rightfully raise to make good for next tenant. Knocks and dings etc a bit more judgement dependent on scale and your appetite to pursue.

I personally work on the basis that if they were good paying tenants and the effort to return the property in good state was obvious even though not perfect, I dont pursue minor points and put the cost of giving the place a shine for the next tenant down as part of the job.

I’ve heard many horror stories of not very nice landlords trying their luck retaining deposits when it was not justified, my uni kids being subjected to that on times too (all north London) - so I am conscious of the impact and stress this causes and therefore not perpetuating the bad habits by taking the hit if relations have been reasonable.

It is your call how you deal with this. I prefer less hassle and good relations, but modestly loose out financially as a result.

David

The best practice is to get the inventory check in on the first day of tenancy when the tenants move in before allowing the tenants to bring their personal belongings in the property. Then get everything signed and give copy of signed Tenancy inventory checked in copy to each tenants and keep one copy for your self.

Please note as professional landlord we have have to adopt the best professional working practice as once tenants moves in many of them donot want to sign the inventory check in as they know that the landlord cannot claim even tenants have damage in in property because inventory has not been signed and also blame landlords for that.

Please note even good tenants turn into bad tenants towards the end of tenancy and at the end it costs so much to the landlords financially and emotionally.

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The dilemma I had is the tenant was moving their belongings at the time and is also a single mother. They requested time to complete the inventory and this never happened. However, agreed I should still have been done. I’ve sent the check in inventory again well ahead of check out to inform them that this along with all pictures but still no acknowledgment from user

The tenant left the property with excessive pen Mark’s in every room in the property including hallway and staircase and is claiming this is fair wear and tear. I had the property redecorated before they moved in. They had been in the property for less than 12 months . Can this be considered malicious damage? They also decline to answer why they did not return the checkin inventory . Any advice on where to go from here? At present I have disagreed with return of deposit with DPS and provided evidence.

Hi Mohammed, if you have informed the DPS that you intend to make a claim for damage, then it sounds like you are doing the right thing.

Let us know how it goes.

When you say pen marks, do you mean they have literally drawn/wrote on the walls with a pen?

Hi Sam,

Yes, literally drawn all over the walls with felt tip pens, crayons etc. Some walls were newly plastered and painted before tenant moved in, the others were wallpapered and painted.

Take lots of photos. Carry on with your claim to dps

The sounds like damage, not wear and tear, to me.

If you show evidence then I imagine the deposit scheme will rule with you.

Let us know what happens!

The annoying thing is that the tenant claims this is fair wear and tear yet they wanted to fix things after tenancy had ended and keys were handed over when they gave 6 weeks notice.