If you listen to The Archers you will know that Usha has given Rob Titchener two months notice to quit Blossom Hill Cottage in Ambridge.

Under the Housing Act 1988 a landlord can serve notice on a tenant with an assured shorthold tenancy (an ‘AST’) at the end of any fixed term giving two months notice that they require possession. Provided that Usha has complied with other rules, such as the protection of any rent deposit taken, then possession can be obtained without the need to prove any breach of the tenancy or ‘statutory ground for possession.’

In The Archers the tenant, Mr Titchener, has already indicated that he has no intention of “dealing with any dilapidations” and in particular cleaning the ‘blood-stained’ carpets which have been damaged!!

What are the landlord’s rights in this situation?

The tenancy agreement will normally contain a clause providing that the tenant shall keep the interior of the property clean, tidy and in the same condition as at the start of the tenancy (excepting for fair wear and tear). If a landlord wishes to rely on this clause in the event that a tenant causes damage to the let property or items in it then, it is essential that a proper record is kept of the state of the property before the tenant moves in and that both the tenant and landlord sign the check-in record; there are various companies that will carry out check in and check outs for landlords and this can be money well spent if a dispute over the ‘condition of carpets’ or other items of disrepair arise in the future.

If the landlord has taken a rent deposit they will be able to deduct the cost of damage from the deposit but only subject to proof. If the tenant disputes that any damage has occurred then he or she is entitled to raise their dispute with the relevant tenancy deposit protection scheme. The procedures that the tenant or landlord/agent need to follow when dealing with a specific tenancy deposit dispute differ slightly depending on the scheme protecting the deposit. However the principles governing how a dispute is dealt with and how the schemes operate their dispute resolution service, including the adjudication service, are common. The parties in dispute are required to submit their evidence to the adjudicator and the landlord must prove that he has, on the ‘balance of probability’, a legitimate claim to retain all or part of the deposit. If the landlord cannot prove his claim then the adjudicator must return the disputed amount to the tenant.

In Rob Titchener’s case if his landlord has not kept a proper record of the condition of Blossom Hill Cottage then she may not be able to prove that he is liable and he will get off ‘scot-free’.

For further information please contact Johanne Spittle.

Landlord & Tenant Solicitors

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