Here is a question to the blog clinic from Giles (not his real name) who is a landlord.
My tenant only fulfilled 7 months of a 12 month lease, citing personal problems for having to break the lease.
The property was left in an unfit state for re-lease. Upon request the tenant did return to clean up/remove some items but we still have repairs/expenses. They broke into a shed and kept a dog on the property without our knowledge.
We are holding a bond with the DPS. What is my legal position?
I believe I am within my right to hold money from the bond for repairs but can I withhold money for loss of rent?
It depends on the terms of your tenancy agreement.
The deposit money belongs to the tenant and the only reason you are entitled to make deductions from it is because your tenancy agreement says so.
- Lack of any tenancy agreement is a top reason why landlords fail at adjudication.
- Lack of any suitable clause in the tenancy agreement about deductions from the deposit is another.
However most professionally drafted tenancy agreements will contain a suitable clause. You need to dig out your tenancy agreement and take a look.
A simple clause saying that you are entitled to make deductions for any reasonable losses and costs incurred by you by reason of the tenant’s breach of the terms of the tenancy agreement will suffice.
This will include rent – as failure to pay rent is a breach of the terms of the tenancy.
Sometimes landlords make it difficult for themselves by including a clause which says that the deposit cannot be offset against rent – meaning that the tenant cannot do this as an excuse for not paying rent during the tenancy. This can sometimes be interpreted as a prohibition against using the deposit for rent at the end of the tenancy.
A better way to word this is:
You are not entitled to withhold payment of any rent or any other money due to us because you have paid a deposit.
But the answer to your question lies in your tenancy agreement.