Hundreds of thousands of landlords affected by property damage

Hundreds of thousands of landlords have seen their properties damaged by tenants in the past year, new research has revealed.

The National Landlords Association (NLA) suggests a total of 400,000 property investors have experienced such damage.

The potential for tenants to do damage to a property is an issue that can be overlooked by landlords. But the harsh realities can soon hit home once the cost of smashed bathroom tiles or garden gates eats into profits.

The NLA’s figures go on to show that 120,000 landlords have made an insurance claim in the past 12 months, with typically 5 per cent of rental income being spent on landlord insurance premiums.

Depending on the policy, landlord insurance can cover an array of issues, such as lost of rent. However, it is landlord buildings and contents insurance that is required for those wanting cover for escaping water and accidental damage. There is even cover available for malicious damage, meaning that if your tenant sprays your walls lime green or slashes your sofa, you can recoup the cost of the damage.

And yet, despite the obvious benefits of insurance for landlords, the NLA research showed half of landlords have not spent any money on insurance premiums in the last year.

Landlords can protect their investments by insuring against the unexpected. It is also worth landlords having a record of the initial condition of the property should landlords look to make a claim on the deposit. This can be achieved by ensuring an inventory is completed when the tenant moves in.

Landlords can also carry out credit checks to ensure the tenants can afford the property and are in a position to move forward to rent the property.

Carolyn Uphill, chairman of the NLA, said: “Property damage can be a costly issue for landlords especially if the level of damage exceeds the value of the tenancy deposit.

“Time and time again, landlords suffer because they fail to properly vet their tenants before granting a tenancy, and it’s alarming just how many landlords find out the hard way that their basic home insurance policy doesn’t provide the cover they need.

“It’s vital to have the right policies and protections in place and landlords should ensure they carry out crucial tenant checks prior to letting their properties.”

Landlords need to be aware that there is a difference between damage and ‘wear and tear’. In circumstances where there is only wear and tear, a tenant is not liable for the replacement or upkeep of these items.

It means if there are scuff marks on the wall or floor, the tenant is not to blame. It is only if the damage is significantly more than this that a claim can be made on the deposit once the tenant leaves the property. The assured shorthold tenancy agreement signed at the beginning of a tenancy will outline the obligations of both the landlord and tenant in this respect.