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Agony Agent is here to help

7th July 2018

Q:  My tenant is doing work without my permission, what should I do?

A: Home improvements to a rental property should be done by the landlord, so what happens when tenants do so without permission?  A good Tenancy Agreement should have some wording in it that stops the tenants from making changes to the property, and if they do, they are responsible for restoring it to the original condition when moving out.  For most tenants this usually means things like taking down blinds and putting up curtains, or installing child safety gates.  Tenants have no problem with putting things back in the original state when they move, and landlords usually aren’t bothered by these types of small changes.  However, sometimes tenants take things a whole lot further and start doing more home improvements to the property.

Examples:

  • Painting walls
  • Replacing the carpet
  • Changing light fittings
  • Changing door locks
  • Changing appliances
  • Landscaping changes, like putting in flower beds, a fence, cutting down trees

Anytime a tenant makes such a permanent change, they are breaking the AST and could even be evicted if the landlord so desires.

The very best tenants consider their rental property a true home, and go out of their way to take care of it and improve it as much as they can.  Often, there’s a healthy relationship in place and tenants can ask permission from the landlord to do the improvements, and permission will generally be given.  So, what happens when tenants make more permanent home improvements to the property without checking first or getting your permission?  What should you do?

There is no right answer for this question, because so much depends on what was done, the type of tenants they are, the relationship you have with them, the condition of the rental property before and after the works (has it improved?), and so on.

There are some steps that you should take in dealing with tenants that make home improvements:

  • Send a written notice acknowledging that permission was never given and it should have been requested.
  • Let the tenants know that there should absolutely be no more unauthorised works, and that any ideas they have for making changes should be run past you first.
  • Outline the consequence of the action, which will vary depending on the circumstances. It could range from doing nothing apart from the warning, to requesting that the property be restored to the original condition immediately or when they move out (at their expense).
  • Keep a copy of the letter on file and use it to support future actions regarding the works.

Just remember even if the work is not costing you anything and it is in fact making the property homelier, nothing should be done without your permission or consent.

Richard Bond

Lettings Manager

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