Wear and tear is most misunderstood issue for tenants and landlords

Taylor Scott International News

Fair wear and tear is the most misunderstood area of the whole renting process and agents and landlords still have unrealistic expectations centred on the deductions that can and cannot be made from the tenant deposit, it is claimed. According to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) it is a commonly held view in the lettings industry that a tenant cannot be held responsible for damage at the end of a tenancy caused by ‘reasonable use of the premises and the ordinary operation of natural forces’. However, while the precise source for this quote is unknown, it is a general guideline that has been accepted across the industry, and the source of most disputes. Recent figures from the Tenancy Deposit Scheme annual survey reveal that cleaning related issues make up 56% of all disputes. Damage to property accounts for 43%, redecoration 30%, rent arrears 17% and gardening issues 13%. It seems that 55% of all disputes are raised by tenants unhappy about the proposed deductions from their deposit and of these, only 21% received all their deposit back. In contrast, 45% of disputes were raised by landlords and agents and of these, only 19% received the amount in dispute. ‘I have lost count of the number of times that a landlord or letting agent has demanded that a property is repainted from top to bottom following a five year tenancy, when the marks on the walls are no more than normal wear and tear,’ said Pat Barber, chair of the AIIC. ‘Everyone has their own view of what constitutes fair wear and tear. Landlords and letting agents may hold the view that a tenant is responsible for repainting a whole property at the end of their tenancy, however the law may not agree. A tenant on the other hand may believe that all the marks, pin holes and damage to the interior walls at time of check out will be covered by normal wear and tear. The same viewpoint is often also applied when assessing damage and wear to the contents of the property and its fixtures and fittings,’ she explained. She pointed out that there are two main things to remember with wear and tear. Firstly, the tenant has a duty of care to return a property in the same condition at the end of the tenancy as found at the start and as listed on the initial inventory report with allowance for fair wear and tear. Secondly, the law does not allow for betterment or ‘new for old’ when assessing the action needed to be taken after a check out inspection. So, if an item was old at check in and after a two year tenancy, there is some additional damage, the law will not allow a landlord to simply replace this item with a new one. Instead, some sort of compensation is allowable towards future replacement…. Taylor Scott International

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