(apologies if you get this twice - I seem to have replied to myself earlier!)
A few specific points:
1) As you suggest I will ask the letting agent for copies of the tenant's references and replies. I will also ask for dates of their inspections and requests for them.
2) They have just sent the tenant's £600 deposit to me but I will also ask for a complete account because this doesn't cover the arrears and certainly not the damage or missing items.
2) I don't think it's worth spending much money or time on this, but my Landlord's Insurance does have a legal assistance clause so I could possibly use this to press matters further (what do you suggest?).
a) sue the lettings agent for failing to manage the property adequately.
b) get a CCJ on the tenant (even if he doesn't have money now). Reasons: rent arrears, non-payment of council tax and other bills, tampering with electrical installation and theft of electricity, damage to property structure and decor, damage to fire detection system, illegal activity, etc. - all this and more is in the signed tenancy agreement.
c) Is there any point in trying to get a joint action with Birmingham City Council, British Gas etc.?
- they will be pursuing the tenant for unpaid Council Tax, unpaid bills respectively.
d) Press the insurance company (Endsleigh) for an ex-gratia payment as they (I believe) unreasonably exclude 'malicious damage' (i.e. damage by the tenant) from my landlord's policy in force at the time. Their current policies have been upgraded to include 'malicious damage' but I was not specifically informed of this.
To maintain continuity, I have renewed the policy - now upgraded as above without any specific action on my part.
Thanks in advance.