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Wear and Tear – making it fair!

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Wear and Tear and Tenants Deposit

At The Home Cloud we are proud to be associated with My Deposits (Tenancy Deposits Solutions Limited) which provides deposit protection for tenants who are renting properties from the many landlords for whom we act as managing agents.

In addition to their deposit protection services My Deposits also provide advice and guidance to landlords, tenants and agents and have recently published valuable guidelines on how to decide what is “reasonable” wear and tear.

Clearly there are financial consequences when it comes to returning all or only part of a tenant’s deposit at the end of a tenancy period and tenants and landlords can often take extremely different views about what is reasonable wear and tear and what is genuine damage for which the tenant can be deemed responsible.

In their guidelines My Deposits have outlined the following key considerations for wear and tear bearing in mind that the landlord is not entitled to arrange for the property to be improved at the tenant’s expense.

Age

How new was the property and the furnishings, decorations etc. at the start of the tenancy?  It is important to record the age of each item at the start of each tenancy and to retain invoices where appropriate to determine the cost and quality.

Quality and expected lifespan of décor, fixtures and fittings

It is important to take into account the lifespan of items and décor or fixtures and fittings as the quality of a carpet or appliance can affect the expected lifespan.

For example, if a carpet cost £50 per sq metre you might expect its lifespan to be longer than one that cost £7 per sq metre.

Also if the tenant has genuinely been responsible for significant damage to the carpet the landlord would be acting unreasonably to demand recompense at £50 per sq metre for a carpet that cost only £7.

Generally, a landlord is not entitled to claim 100% of replacement costs even if the tenant is responsible for damage – i.e. a carpet which is brand new at the start of a two-year tenancy say may reasonably be expected to have another three years’ life left in it at the end of the tenancy, so the maximum replacement cost that the landlord may demand is 60%.

Number and type of occupiers

The higher the number of rooms and occupants, the higher the wear and tear in all common area – sitting room, passages, stairs, bathrooms and kitchen.  If some of the occupants are children, then more scuffs and scrapes are to be expected as that’s part of normal family life.

Provided that the number and type of tenants were agreed with the landlord at the outset then this information will affect the assessment of “reasonable” wear and tear at the end of the tenancy.  If the landlord has agreed to rent to a family, then he/she must expect more wear and tear than if the let is to one individual or a professional couple for example.

Length of tenancy

The longer the tenancy, the more natural wear and tear is likely to occur.

Prevention

Disputes between tenant and landlord are far less likely to occur if a good relationship is maintained throughout the tenancy.  A good landlord (or the agent appointed to manage the property on his behalf) will regularly visit the property and identify any issues before they escalate so that remedial work can be undertaken in a timely manner.

Photo and video evidence

Photos and video inventories are a helpful means of recording the condition at the start and end of each tenancy.  Such evidence, clearly dated and signed by all parties, can then be used should any dispute arise.  Bear in mind the importance of digitally dating photographic evidence to avoid any subsequent ambiguity.

Adjudication

Remember that if a case is taken to adjudication for assessment by an independent arbiter then the arbiter can only take into account factual evidence, he cannot rely on assumptions or subjective testimony.  (Also there is no right to challenge or appeal an adjudication decision unless there has been an error in fact or law).  So the better the quality of evidence the higher the chance that the correct and fairest decision will be reached.

Conclusion

Because wear and tear is a topic that is open to interpretation we, at the Home Cloud, implement policies which minimise the opportunity for disputes to arise.

When we are managing a property we organise detailed inventories at the start and end of each tenancy (which include high quality photographic evidence signed off by all parties) and we undertake regular reviews of all properties under management with a full written report to the landlord.  Any issues are also reported to the tenant and remedial work authorised and actioned where necessary.

If you are a tenant or landlord and would like more information about your rights regarding deposit retention or would like to find out how our lettings and rental services can benefit you, please get in touch by calling 02072054060 or email tom@thehomecloud.xenacia.com or visit thehomecloud.xenacia.com

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