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Damage responsibility

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Author Topic: Damage responsibility  (Read 374 times)
Posts: 1

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« on: November 10, 2019, 01:25:56 PM »

I am a first time landlord. I use an estate agent. It is my first agent and first tenants.

My tenants burnt the garage last summer by letting one of their guests adding petrol to the barbecue (garage door + electric cables + fascia have to be repaired, none of the tenant personal goods have been damaged) . Fire engines and neighbours came to help. It happened a Sunday. I live next door but was away at that time. I came back on the Monday. Nobody reported the fire to me and I only aknowledged it by accident on the Tuesday looking out of the window as I was doing some dusting in my bedroom. I contacted the agent who was not aware of anything. The agent tried to reach the tenants by emailing them. They finally came to my door to tell us what happened.

On the spot, tenants admitted their responsibility and said that they would pay for repairs. Agent sent me emails stating the same: tenants are responsible and will have to repair.

2 months later agent says to me:
1. "tenants said that they are not in a position to pay for repairs"
2. "use you own insurance and activate the claim"
3. "landlord is anyway the only one responsible for the repair of rented buildings

My questions are:
1. Who is really responsible me or the tenants

2. Am I allowed to be told why exactly tenants are not "in a position to pay" (It is a couple with a teenager. They have 5 racing motorbikes in the garage + 3 cars. I think they have the money but other priorities)?

3 Am I allowed to contest all that as agent made us believe that the responsibility was the tenants before retracting and telling it is ours now?

4. What is the best to do, use our insurance and make them pay the excess, pay from our own pocket and deduct from the deposit or refuse to do anything?
Agent said about the deposit (If this issue became part of a deposit dispute at the end of the tenancy and the case was passed to The Dispute Service (TDS) for arbitration, it is highly likely that the adjudicator would only allow a deduction from the deposit equivalent to your policy excess.  The tenancy agreement stipulates that the landlord must insure the buildings and contents of the premises and the tenants do not have unlimited liability in the event of accidental damage.

5. After the garage is fixed, can I give notice to all of them, tenants and agent, without ending up in court being ttold that it is a revenge (tenants have 2 dogs and my find it difficult to find another letting. I wouldn't be surprised if anybody find a way to contest the notice)?


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« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2019, 02:34:09 PM »

Yes,I would get shot of all of them.The agents need to learn who they are supposed to be working for.Have you checked with your insurers to find out what the excess would be,and what effect this would have on future premiums? I personally would serve 21 regardless.It is hard to see how it could be considered revenge eviction when tenants have behaved with such disregard for the property and safety of people living nearby.I don't think their actions could be considered a genuine accident,stupid and irresponsible more like.
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« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2019, 05:49:53 PM »

Landlords are expected to insure the building.  You should claim on the insurance and deduct the excess from the tenants' deposit. Definitely get rid of the agent who should have been clear with you about that right from the start -- they've mismanaged your expectations.

I wouldn't personally evict the tenants just for that.  They've been reckless but they'll pay for it out of their deposit.  It's not as if you'll be out of pocket.
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« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2019, 10:29:13 AM »

If an honourable Tenant paid-up you'd be OK... often they will not, and that's why you have Insurance. In my ASTs I have a clause that says Tenants are responsible for the Excess due in an incident where I need to claim on the Insurance and it's their fault... so not a boiler breakdown situation, but something like this... I state that's a separate payment, not coming from the Deposit. These Tenants probably had good intentions because, maybe, their friends / guests said they would handle it, but didn't... besides, Tenants offer things in a moment, but then have a think about how they can't do it and, besides, the Landlord is rich and can absorb this on my behalf, so this becomes their prevailing attitude. You do not need Tenants like this in your life. I would move towards a Section 21... but, as soon as possible (and now if possible), I would be increasing the rent by a modest but significant amount as well - say 25 to 50 per month... just to set something else going. They may decide they want to be elsewhere of their own accord.
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