Can A Landlord Charge You For Damages After Moving Out?

End of tenancy cleaning

We all know that moving house can be an incredibly stressful time. When you’re renting, there’s always an extra headache when it comes to worrying about potential charges from landlords. You may therefore be wondering how much can a landlord charge for damages, end of tenancy cleaning, lost keys, and more. 

That’s why it’s super important to make sure, as a tenant, you know your legal rights when it comes to what your landlord can and can’t charge you for. One of the things landlords can legally charge you for is damage to property. That’s why we’re going to look at what constitutes property damage, how to avoid property damage, and how much can a landlord charge for damages.


What is property damage?

The Tenant Fees Act 2019 is really helpful when it comes to understanding the rights and obligations of both landlords and tenants. When it comes to the issue of property damage, the act says that a landlord is responsible for making it clear “why they are seeking damages from you,” as well as providing “evidence of the costs they have incurred because of your actions.” 

When it comes to how much can a landlord charge for damages, most of the time, your landlord will take the appropriate amount from your deposit. This will depend on the extent of the damage and the cost of the repairs. 

However, if the deposit doesn’t cover the costs, or the tenant and landlord can’t agree on the amount you should be paying, you may end up with a landlord suing a tenant for damages. It goes without saying that both you and your landlord will want to avoid the hassle of a day in court, so sorting the issue between yourselves is always the simpler option. 

The best way to avoid complications such as having to go to court is to arm yourself with knowledge. So, here are some examples of the type of damage your landlord can charge you for: 

  • Burns or stains on floors, countertops or furniture
  • Holes in walls and doors
  • Missing property
  • Strong urine or pet smell throughout the property
  • Broken or missing property
  • Torn curtains or furniture fabric
  • Broken windows
  • Broken enamel on bathtubs or sinks
  • Missing taps
  • Unapproved paint or paper on walls

If you have damaged the property, bear in mind that your landlord should charge you a reasonable and fair amount to repair the damage. If, for example, you stain an old carpet, your landlord cannot charge you for replacing the carpet with something brand new and high-end. 

If you’re wondering how long a landlord has to notify you of damages in the UK, there is no legal time limit for this. However, if you request a deposit return and haven’t heard back from your landlord within 10 days, you can raise a dispute through a tenancy deposit scheme.


What isn’t property damage?

Some minor damage is expected when someone lives in a property for some time. This minor damage is referred to as ‘fair wear and tear,’ which your landlord cannot charge you for. Some examples of fair wear and tear include:

  • Slightly ripped/faded wallpaper
  • Frayed or faded curtains
  • Thinning or fading of carpet
  • Rusty shower rod
  • Loose tiles or grouting
  • Poor/old plumbing
  • Cracked window panes
  • Worn enamel in the bathroom
  • Minor scuffs on walls or floor

If you’re unsure about whether something constitutes damage, you should be able to speak to your landlord about this. Keeping lines of communication open and being honest with each other is key to a cordial landlord/tenant relationship. 


The importance of an inventory

No landlord or tenant wants the hassle of disagreeing over damages, much less spending time in court. One way to avoid this happening is by ensuring that your landlord has arranged for a property inventory to be carried out. This can be done either by a third party or the landlord themselves. 

An inventory should be completed before you move in and should detail the condition of the property and the contents inside it. You should then be given a copy of the inventory during your first few days at the property so that you can check that you agree with it before signing. 

It should include any pre-existing damage made to the property before your arrival, such as holes in walls, stains on carpets or furniture, broken items etc. It’s important not to sign the inventory until you’ve thoroughly gone through both the property and the inventory yourself. This can help ensure that you aren’t incurring cleaning charges for tenants.

If the inventory doesn’t include all the previous damage to the property, you may find yourself being told that you are liable to pay for fixing the issue, resulting in you not getting back your deposit. This is where a thorough end of tenancy cleaning checklist can come in handy before handing the keys back to your landlord.


How to avoid property damage

Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are, accidents can and do happen. If these accidents take place in your rental property, you can end up shouldering the bill for the damage that’s taken place. That’s why it’s recommended that you take steps to ensure that you keep your property in tip-top condition, and get as much of that deposit money back as possible. As well as avoiding the frightening scenario of a landlord suing a tenant for damages.

Here’s what we’d recommend:

Keep an eye on guests at your house

Unfortunately, if your guest causes an accident at the property, you’ll be held responsible by the landlord. 

Only eat and drink in the kitchen

This can prevent damage caused by staining or burning. 

Ensure shoes are taken off before entering the property

You don’t want muddy footprints staining the carpets! 

Do not make any unapproved changes to the property

Regardless of your personal tastes, your landlord will likely class any paintwork or wallpapering you do as damage to the property. You must always get your landlord’s written approval before undergoing any redecorating

Report all damage to the landlord

If damage does occur, you should take photos of the damage and send them to your landlord as soon as possible. Include the date and keep a copy for yourself to refer back to. 

You can offer to repair the damage yourself, or ask the landlord if there are any tradespeople they would recommend working with. A good landlord will work through the problem with you and help you find a solution to fixing the damage.


How End Of Tenancy can help you

No tenant wants their deposit to be kept at the end of their lease, or worse, find themselves with a landlord suing the tenant for damages. One of the best ways to avoid this is to ensure that before moving out, the property is left in pristine condition. This can be tricky if you don’t have specialised cleaning know-how, especially if you’re trying to get rid of things like stains on fabric, which can be made even worse if cleaned incorrectly. 

That’s why it’s best to book a thorough end of tenancy clean with a professional cleaning company. That way, you can rest assured that your landlord will find the property spic and span, all ready for a new tenant. We have a track record of tackling the toughest messes across the London area, ensuring happy tenants and happy landlords alike.   

If you have any questions or want to find out more, get in touch with our friendly team, who are always happy to answer any questions you might have, or get your own free quote by filling in our online booking portal