Here is a question to the blog clinic ‘rom Lyn who is a landlord
My tenants were responsible for a fire at the property. Cigarette stubs next to flambé liquid on a wooden shelf unit they had placed against the wall next to coal, fire kindling and ashes.
They’ve gone now thankfully, left the house disgusting. I have to pay an insurance excess to have the fire damage repaired (£26k plus vat). Can I take the excess from their deposit?
It really depends on what your tenancy agreement says.
Contrary to what many people may think, the act of taking a deposit does not of itself authorise the landlord to make deductions. And there are no standard rules about the deductions you can make which apply to everyone.
The deposit is the tenant’s money and the landlord’s right to make deductions comes from the tenancy agreement.
Which incidentally, is why there is no point in taking a deposit if you do not have a written tenancy agreement as there will be no written clause authorising you to make deductions!
So the first thing to do is to read your tenancy agreement and see what it says.
However assuming there is a clause about tenancy deposit deductions you should be all right.
Generally, these clauses say, in one way or another, that the landlord is entitled to make deductions for any loss suffered as a result of the tenant’s breach of the terms of the tenancy agreement.
Presumably, your tenancy agreement will have contained somewhere a prohibition against acts which are likely to damage the property or cause a fire, or prohibited smoking – in which case you should be all right.
They won’t have to pay the total cost as this is covered by insurance but you should be able to deduct the excess. Provided you are able to show that the tenants did cause the fire – which presumably you can.