How to expense repairs to tenants when you believe they caused the damage

  1. Always picture how you would justify this to a PRTB adjudicator. See my previous post on deposit retentions.
  2. Try to get photos of the damage or ask the tenant to send them. The PRTB pay most attention to photos.
  3. Get a 3rd party contractor to inspect and do the work so they can act as an independent opinion. Only use 3rd party contractors that are good enough to offer an educated and decisive opinion. If you’re doing the work yourself get someone independent to inspect with you (this is where a management company comes in handy). Don’t use a contractor that won’t give a decision.
  4. Get an invoice (or quote) and a written explanation from the contractor explaining that, in their experience the damage was caused by the tenant (if it really was caused by the tenant).
  5. Email the tenant and ask them how the damage happened. This can sometimes resign the tenant to accepting the expense or once in a while they can give a reasonable response.
  6. Do not be worried if a tenant starts to threaten! It’s a common response when a bad tenant has been caught out. Just be sure of your facts and refer to step 1.
  7. When deciding on an amount to retain, you can only bill for the replacement of like-for-like and maybe a small bit extra if you are forced to upgrade. For example if a tenant has left an iron burn in the carpet of a small bedroom, it’s not reasonable for the landlord to put up with a small square cut out and replaced so we will usually change the whole carpet. It is also not reasonable for the tenant to pay for the full carpet since the landlord is getting an upgrade to the rest of the room. We bill the tenant for the cost of a small section of the replacement carpet, the callout and a small bit extra for forcing us to pay for the upgrade of the rest of the carpet.
  8. Check online sources of information for advice. You can also call Threshold and pretend to be a tenant for free advice. Beware because you’re getting opinions only and you still need to make the final decision.