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Property Litigation – FAQs

Does a deposit need to be protected?

All tenancy deposits on Assured Shorthold Tenancies from April 2007 have to be protected in a government authorised protection scheme. The landlord should provide a Deposit Protection Certificate (DPC) to the Tenant within 30 days.

In England deposits can be registered with the following; Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits, Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

If a deposit is not protected it will be difficult for the landlord to evict the tenants and the landlord can be ordered by the Court to pay up to three times the amount of the deposit.

The deposit schemes provide an arbitration service, if there is a disagreement about the return of the deposit.

What happens if the property is damaged by the tenant?

Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 states that tenants should ‘Make good any damage to the property caused by the behaviour or negligence of the tenant, members of his/her household or any other person lawfully visiting or living in the property’.

It is useful to take an inventory of the property before any tenants move in, to detail the contents and condition of the property. If the tenants then damage the property then they should pay for the repairs or replacement as required. Should the tenants fail to meet the cost of the damage, then this can be taken from the deposit at the end of the tenancy.

General wear and tear should however be accounted for. Examples of wear and tear would be, painting and decorating, some scratches and marks on often used areas.

The tenant has moved out and left their belongings in the property, can I dispose of it?

Any belongings left behind by a tenant still belong to the tenant. If you therefore dispose of the belongings the tenant may bring a legal action against you.

The first thing you should do is try to contact the tenant and request that they collect their belongings. A notice under the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 will need to be sent to the tenant explaining that you intend to sell or dispose of their belongings left at the property, providing a reasonable amount of time or them to be collected by.

I think the tenant has abandoned the property, can I change the locks?

If you change the locks and the tenant has not left the property, the tenant could have a claim against you for unlawful eviction. If you do not have an agreement with the tenant that they have abandoned their tenancy rights then to protect your position you should still proceed to obtain a possession order from the Court.

Can my landlord increase the rent?

Whether your landlord can increase the rent, will depend on what tenancy you have. There are certain rules and notice periods your landlord will have to provide, depending on if you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, are within a fixed term or if there is a rent review clause.

You should try and reach an agreement with your landlord and if this is not possible, you can refer the matter to the Property Tribunal for a decision.

I have problem tenants, how can I evict them?

Depending on the circumstances, the tenants should firstly be contacted to advise of the situation and why you wish for them to leave the property. If communicating with the tenants does not resolve the issue, then an appropriate form or notice should be served on the tenants. Legal advice should be taken as soon as possible to assist with ensuring the correct notice is served and if necessary, commence possession proceedings in the County Court.

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