Growing problems for landlords as tenants do a ‘Titchmarsh’

Published: 29/05/2013

An increasing number of tenants are taking it upon themselves to make ‘improvements’ to the gardens and driveways of their rented property. However such changes could end up costing them dearly in the long run according to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC).

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.

As we approach the summer season, the AIIC 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.

GW LET solicitor, Rob Denman, explains a landlord’s legal rights in such a situation:

“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. If you are a landlord in need of legal help regarding a tenancy dispute, such as alternations made to the property, contact our dedicated team today.

Content correct at time of publication

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