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poopsterfire

How to deduct from lodger deposit without 'revenge' from lodger

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I have a number of live-in-landlord friends who have told me they're rarely able to make deductions from lodger deposits due to threats of revenge, and that in reality the law doesn't protect landlords from damage by lodgers. 

One of my friends had a lodger who caused over £1000 damage to her kitchen worktops by not using the chopping board. She evicted him & kept his deposit (which was not enough to pay for the damage). As well as refusing to pay for the damage he had caused, he 'shopped her' by reporting her to as many authorities as he could find, making up random stories about her. The end result was that she was forced by trading standards to return his deposit, and suspended from a popular room advertising site pending an "investigation", but was not allowed to advertise to find a replacement lodger for months, which resulted in far more than £1000 lost. She was found innocent after these investigations, but not without causing months of headaches, stress, forms to fill out, documents to prove herself, and months in lost rent.

I have heard of plenty more stories like the above. Is there any guaranteed way live-in-landlords have to protect themselves from revenge actions like this? If not, I suspect the live in landlord will gradually become a thing of the past...

 

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... and another landlord I know had a similar story: 

His 'non smoker' lodger started chain smoking after moving in, and put out her cigarettes on walls & surfaces, both outside & inside his home. It turned out she'd been given glowing references by her previous landlord because he was desperate to get rid of her. He evicted her & kept some of her deposit to pay for the damage. However, she retaliated by making up stories & reporting him to as many authorities as she could find which tied him up in 2 huge investigations. He was found innocent, but not before being put through months of investigations involving hundreds of hours of paperwork & professional fees. She was let off scott-free because she was "only doing what she believed was right", and she admitted to him in person (with no recording) that she had reported him anonymously. I won't name the authorities who performed the investigations here, because I don't want to encourage any other lodgers to do the same thing to anyone else.

Another landlord I know was taken to court for keeping a deposit to pay for damage, and the amount of time it would have taken to fight the case would have cost more than the damage itself (which was a lot). Also, it seems landlords are expected to provide incontrovertible proof the lodger caused the damage, which is impossible to provide without having cctv in every room of the house (which is obviously not going to happen, especially in bathrooms or bedrooms). It just seems like a no-win situation and every live-in-landlord I know has stopped deducting from deposits & eventually stopped taking in lodgers altogether because it isn't worth the damage & lack of ability to take from deposit for it.

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These type of problems could occur in any type of tenancy and I would say you or or friends are not doing enough pre checks. 

The way to reduce the risk is to fully reference and vet the people you are allowing into your home. Having a guarantor and a detailed inventory signed in advance by the tenant is also a must.

If lettings agents can make deductions from deposits quite successfully and legally  after the tenancy has ended and they have all the problems and restrictions  that surround deposit protection, the question to ask yourself is "what am I doing wrong"? 

 

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IF this guy was truly a lodger then why did live in landlord not spot the damage and boot him out earliest?  Lodgers rarely have £1000 in deposit paid.  Are you sure this is not an AST?

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