Q&A - How can I stop new landlord charging me for pre-existing damage?

Q: I am about to move into a rented house, but I am worried about being charged for things that were broken prior to me moving in. When I viewed the property there was a cracked window in the kitchen and the lock on the bathroom door was broken. I know they are only little things but I was told by the managing agent that the landlord has promised to fix them, and yet when I drove past the property a few days ago I could see that the window was still cracked. Now I am worried he may not have fixed the door lock either, and worse doesn't intend to. What should I do?

A: Before you move into the property, the landlord should have a detailed inventory done of everything at the property. This should also include photographs of the condition of the property, and highlight any existing problems. Additionally it should include meter readings for the utilities, i.e. gas, electricity and water if it is on a meter.

You should be given an opportunity to check the accuracy of the inventories when you first move in, and you should report any inaccuracies to the landlord or agent immediately. This will ensure that the inventory represents a true reflection of the property's condition prior to you taking occupation.

If you do not receive an inventory you should take your own detailed photographs of the property, with dates if possible, taking particular note of any defects and making a separate list of items which require attention. Ask your landlord to sign a copy of the list, with the photographs attached for your records.

Should you experience difficulty with your landlord, you should obtain advice from a solicitor as soon as possible.