Research reveals many tenants would not tell landlords about damage in rented home

One in four private rented sector tenants in the UK would not tell their landlord about significant damage but most would offer to pay for repairs, according to new research.

Overall some 27% would keep quiet if they were responsible for major damage to the property that they rent, the survey from YouGov for property marketplace TheHouseShop found.

The poll also found that 15% would hire a professional to repair the damage and 11% would repair it themselves, and 1% would attempt to hide the damage, all hoping to leave their landlord unaware of repairs done to problems such as broken windows, damage to fixtures and fittings or to showers and bathrooms.

Of the 58% who would report the damage, the poll found that 24% would offer to pay the full repair bill, 7% would offer a contribution to the repair bill, and 27% would wait and see if they needed to pay anything.

When it comes to the gender divide, men were clearly more confident in their DIY skills, with 13% opting to repair the damage themselves, compared to 9% of women. Women, on the other hand, were more likely to tell the landlord and offer to pay the full repair bill, with 26% compared to 21% of men.

‘While the vast majority of tenants will not actively try to do damage to a property, accidents do happen, and even well-meaning and reliable tenants can end up inflicting significant damage during their tenancy,’ said Nick Marr, the firm’s co-founder.

‘The best advice I could give to landlords would be to encourage an open and honest relationship with their tenants, so that tenants don’t feel scared or nervous about reporting any damages as soon as they happen. Having a direct relationship with your tenants, as opposed to using a third party agent or management service, can be a great way to build trust and avoid any nasty surprises further down the line,’ he explained.

‘However, it is important to remember that landlords should always conduct thorough checks and references on any potential tenants before they move into the property. That way you can hopefully avoid the nightmare tenant horror stories that so many landlords can recall in an instant,’ he added.

The research gives an example of the potential pitfalls of trying to hide a problem and attempting a DIY fix. Emma Bannerman explained that her household in a rented property in London accidentally damaged and broke one of the taps on the kitchen sink after a particularly rowdy dinner party.

‘We thought it was a relatively minor repair job and we didn’t want to tell the landlord as we thought he would charge us an arm and a leg to repair it. So, with the help of a few YouTube videos we attempted to repair the damage ourselves,’ she said.

‘Unfortunately the DIY fix did not go to plan and we ended up almost flooding the entire kitchen. It was impossible to hide the water damage from the landlord so we owned up to our mistakes and ended up paying several hundred pounds more than we would have if we’d reported it straight away. Suffice to say we learnt our lesson and now repot any and all damage, no matter how small,’ she added.