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Landlords Suffer Huge Numbers of Tenancy Breaches

Direct Line is highlighting the importance of residential landlords having their properties inspected regularly, with research revealing 83 per cent of landlords have had tenants breach their tenancy agreement. 

Many tenancy agreement breaches could be picked up by regular inspections. The most common breaches include not keeping the property sufficiently clean and maintained (36 per cent) and failing to notify a landlord of required repairs (29 per cent). Other breaches include damaging or making alterations to the property, keeping a pet in the property, smoking/vaping in the property and redecorating without permission all of which were reported by over a quarter of those landlords surveyed.

Despite this, only just over half of landlords (55 per cent) conduct six-monthly property inspections. Whilst a further 21 per cent make only annual checks, with one in 10 landlords admitting that they only visit their properties at the start and end of the tenancy. Fourteen per cent of landlords visit their properties less often than that, or only if they suspect there is an issue.


Breaches in tenancy agreements experienced by landlords.

Reason for breach

Proportion of breaches

Failing to pay rent on time (or not at all)

38 per cent

Failing to keep the property sufficiently clean and maintained

36 per cent

Failure to notify the landlord of things that need repairing

29 per cent

Damaging or making alterations to the property

28 per cent

Keeping a pet in the property

28 per cent

Smoking/vaping in the property

27 per cent

Redecorating without permission

25 per cent

Causing a disturbance or nuisance to neighbouring properties

23 per cent

Subletting or moving in people without notifying the landlord

15 per cent

Changing locks

15 per cent

Tampering with or covering smoke or carbon monoxide alarms

10 per cent


1 per cent

N/A – I have not experienced any breaches in tenancy agreements

17 per cent

(Source: Direct Line Landlord Insurance)

The most common sanction for broken tenancy agreements is to have money deducted from the tenant’s deposit, to issue the tenant with a written or verbal warning or to ask the tenants to pay for the damages or work themselves.

Actions imposed on tenants who have broken the rules of the tenancy agreement.

Action Imposed

Proportion of actions

Money deducted from their deposit

38 per cent

Gave them a written or verbal warning

32 per cent

Made them pay for the damages or work

28 per cent

Did not return the deposit

26 per cent

Evicted the tenant

23 per cent

Made them rectify the issue

23 per cent


2 per cent

N/A – I did not take any action

6 per cent

(Source: Direct Line Landlord Insurance)

 Sarah Casey, Landlord Product Manager at Direct Line, comments: “Property inspections shouldn’t feel intrusive for tenants and are all about building good relationships and keeping an eye out for any emerging issues. Early intervention can often stop these from developing into a bigger problem that requires landlords to take further action.

"Landlords should also make sure that tenancy deposits are held in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme to help cover costs if, for example, the tenant leaves the property in a filthy state, has broken furniture or removed property supplied by the landlord.”

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  • icon

    The problem with discovering breeches is that there is actually nothing a landlord can do if the tenant does not cooperate.
    Take money from the deposit then it doesn't cover repairs or lost rent at the end of tenancy.
    Tell them to fix or stop doing whatever - they ignore.
    Issue section 8 notice - tenant ignores or solicitor advises against court as "discretionary" unless unpaid rent.
    Issue section 21 "no fault" eviction notice - tenant ignores as advised by all and sundry, stops paying rent and is still there 7 months later and 5K in arrears with rent.
    Not sure how inspections helps that??
    Having said all that, there is merit in picking up unreported repairs and advising on condensation and mould prevention. Don't forget to record in correspondence with the tenant for future reference.


    A paper, or these days an electronic, trial can be invaluable, especially if you get a read receipt or a reply. Hard to argue that they didn’t receive it then. 😉

  • icon
    • A JR
    • 13 January 2024 12:31 PM

    Fact is with or without inspection tenancy breeches are commonplace. I have lost count of the number of unapproved pets I’ve come across, non smoking smokers, late or no payments, unpaid utilities, repainted bright orange walls, purple walls, ad-inf. Tenancy terms are already almost unenforceable and with the loss of sec 21 there’s zilch deterrent available to keep even a modicum of responsibility effective .

  • icon

    I think there should be a much easier, quicker and cheaper way to deal with non or delayed rent payment. It is black and white, easy to prove as it's up to the tenant to prove they have paid. I think the vast majority of poor payers are also the type of tenants that cause other issues as well.

  • icon

    It's frustrating that LLs can get huge fines for minor breaches but tenants routinely ignore huge chunks of their contract. Most don't read it & if they do, most don't believe it is a legal contract that can be enforced - mostly because it can't! S21 is the only way LLs can enforce their contract terms.

  • icon

    The best way to keep control of the tenancy is by having an Independent Inventory Clerk inspect the property with the Tenants at the check in, this impresses on them a degree of accountability, and they know the standard that is expected during the tenancy when properly advised by the clerk.
    I always give them my 'moving in lecture' about their obligations and how to avoid trouble at the end of the tenancy, because I am independent they take me seriously and very often follow my advice and have an easy run of it, part of the problem is nobody with experience explains it properly to them and its not something Google can answer either!


    Richard, I always use an AIIC inventory clerk and occasionally pay them to do an inspection if there are any concerns. If, as happened recently, a new washing machine was installed, I email him and the tenant details and a copy of the invoice asking for the inventory to be updated. Works for me.

  • Peter Lewis

    I’ve got to admit that i am guilty as charged, not visiting enough, and although i haven't had a reckless tenant it has always cost me at least £500.00 to get the property back to a let able condition.
    I’m sorry to say that the majority of tenants don’t care a bout condition until they want their deposit back


    Many cannot be bothered to clean the property before moving out and the wounder why they don't get their deposit back

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    Its probably the most common thing I see, tenants complain vociferously at check in if the property isn't immaculate, and then when they move out they do their own cleaning (badly) and try to argue its the same standard, which it never is. I can guarantee that 99% of tenants who complain at check in will leave it in dirty order, it also isn't helped by most so called cleaning companies being frankly dire which often catches well meaning tenants out, I always advise them to get the Landlord to arrange it, that way if anything goes wrong (Broken glass in oven doors anyone?) then they are off the hook..


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