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Article > The Law Regarding Dilapidations

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Dilapidations are the repairs for which the tenant is responsible for carrying out before vacating their rented property. However, few tenants living in rented accommodation will be aware of the law regarding Dilapidations or the possible compensation claims surrounding them.

It’s always advisable, before signing a tenancy agreement, for a prospective tenant to seek legal advice in order to get a better idea of the terminology used and any repairing covenants which may be present within that agreement. This will give the tenant a clearer understanding of where their responsibilities lie with regard to repairs and redecoration.

A landlord cannot expect a tenant to repair areas which were already in disrepair when the tenant moved into the property so another important course of action is to carry out a thorough inventory. The inventory can be undertaken by both the tenant and the landlord together or by a third party and should include all areas of damage or disrepair present before the tenant moved in such as stained carpets, broken windows, damage to walls and doors, peeling paint, crumbling plaster work and, most importantly, structural damage. The inventory should be dated and signed by both the landlord and tenant and both parties should keep a copy for their records.

The landlord has to expect a general amount of wear and tear when renting out a property and usually, should damage occur through the fault of a tenant, the tenant will contact the landlord to make him aware and then proceed to put the damage right themselves. However, if the landlord believes that the tenant has not kept up their side of the agreement and has not maintained a good state of repair he can serve the tenant with a Schedule of Dilapidations.

What is a Schedule of Dilapidations?
A Schedule of Dilapidations is a catalogued list of all the repair obligations of the tenant and all the repairs the landlord requires the tenant to carry out. The document will also contain the estimated costs of repairs which will have been calculated by the landlord’s building surveyor. On receipt of a Schedule of Dilapidations it is imperative that the tenant seeks legal advice and also appoints a building surveyor to inspect the damage to the property. The solicitor and building surveyor should also be given a copy of the tenancy agreement to ascertain whether the tenant is legally obligated to carry out the repairs. If it is agreed that the tenant is responsible for the repairs then the tenant will be given a set period of time in which to carry out those repairs at their own cost.

When a tenant is served with a Final Schedule of Dilapidations then this should actually be seen as a damages claim. A Final Schedule of Dilapidations is served after the tenancy has ended and, instead of requiring repairs for the damages, the landlord is actually seeking compensation to cover the costs of repairing the damage caused by the tenant.

What should a Tenant do when they are served with a Final Schedule of Dilapidations?
When a tenant is served with a Final Schedule of Dilapidations then, again, it is vital to appoint both a building surveyor and solicitor to verify the tenant’s responsibility and evaluate the damage to the property.

If the tenant is responsible for the damages that have occurred then there is little the tenant can do but pay up although, in some circumstances the tenant’s solicitor may be able to come to an agreement regarding the costs with the tenant’s landlord and, if this is the case, settling out of court will also eliminate any further legal costs which would fall on the tenant. There may also be a possibility that the landlord is happy for the tenant to make all the arrangements regarding the repairs themselves. Busy landlords may be grateful for the opportunity to relinquish this time consuming responsibility and this enables the tenant to obtain quotes for the work required and, subsequently, opt for the most reasonable one.

If neither of these options are made available to the tenant then, the tenant will have no option but to attend a hearing and pay the amount agreed. However, there are some very exceptional circumstances under which the tenant’s obligation to pay for the repairs will be made void. These circumstances are known as statutory relief and come into play when it can be proved that the landlord is intending to completely demolish the property in question or is planning to carry out significant renovations which will render the repairs expected to be paid for by the tenant completely pointless.

Another form of statutory relief may enable the tenant to pay far less than the amount of the costs stated by the landlord. This happens when the damage which has occurred has caused devaluation of the property. In cases like this the landlord cannot claim damages which exceed the devaluation and can only put in a claim which is in line with the property’s current market value.


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