One issue that most if not all landlords will eventually have to contend with is the issue of dilapidations. This concerns the compensation a landlord is due when a tenant does not meet the agreed obligations set out in the tenancy agreement which results in the property requiring repair or redecoration.
All landlords must protect and maintain the value of their properties, thus if a tenant is in contravention of their contractual obligations which results in a devaluing of the property, there is a legal process through which the landlord can recover the costs of restoring the property to its former condition.
Compiling a Schedule of Dilapidations
Landlords seeking to make a dilapidations claim against a tenant must first make a record of all the alleged breaches of contract that have resulted in damage or other devaluing of the property during the tenant’s tenancy. The Schedule should also identify any appropriate restoration or repair measures. If an amicable settlement cannot be agreed between both parties, then it is this Schedule of Dilapidations that will form the basis of the landlord’s legal process.
When the list of required repairs is compiled once a tenant has ended their tenancy, this is known as a Terminal Schedule. Sometimes such processes can begin while the tenant is still in tenancy, with these known as either an Interim Schedule or simply a Repairs Notice.
It is advantageous for a landlord to appoint a dilapidations surveyor to prepare a Schedule of Dilapidations in as much detail as possible. It is then served on the tenant by the landlord or the landlord’s solicitor.
A Tenant’s Options and Solutions
Once served with the Schedule of Dilapidations, the tenant has the option of appointing their own surveyor to validate the claim. If they are still in tenancy, they can agree to undertake the repairs detailed by the Schedule themselves or to pay the landlord to arrange them.
If the tenancy has already ended and it is a Terminal Schedule that has been issued, then the former tenant no longer has the option to undertake the repairs themselves. In such an instance the only option on offer is to pay the damages claimed by the landlord.
The claim and amount of damages due can of course be negotiated between the two parties, with the landlord responsible for providing evidence of actual monetary loss such as quotes or invoices for the restoration work from repair services or contractors. The exact details of the original tenancy agreement will also come under scrutiny in order to determine exactly how responsible the tenant is for the damages.
Legal Limits of a Dilapidations Claim
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1927 caps the level of damages that can be claimed at the amount by which the value of the premises has been diminished by the tenant. There are also several other minor limitations which every landlord looking to compile a Schedule or Notice should be fully aware of before undertaking any claim.
Dilapidations Advice for Landlords (and Tenants!)
The best way of ensuring any issues with dilapidations are easily dealt with is to make the original tenancy agreement as clear and detailed as possible with regards to the tenant’s obligations. Every landlord should ensure that everything they expect to be maintained in the property is included in the contract, with any and all measures of restoration included so there is no doubt as to the correct course of action should an issue arise during or at the end of a tenancy.
For tenants, it is equally important that special attention is paid to any of these dilapidations-focused contract inclusions before signing. It is the tenant’s responsibility to ensure the obligations set out in the tenancy agreement are reasonable and fair, because once the tenancy agreement is signed, they will be considered so by law.
If you need more information about making a dilapidations claim or validating one made against you, then contact North Yorkshire Law Solicitors who can help you through the entire process.