Fair Wear and Tear on Rented Property Misunderstood
The most misinterpreted area of the whole renting process is fair wear and tear, says the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC).
According to the AIIC, agents and landlords have unrealistic expectations about the possible deductions from a tenant’s deposit.
Additionally, the AIIC says that within the letting industry, it is a common view that the House of Lords have outlined the terms on which a tenant cannot be held responsible for damage at the end of a tenancy. This states that a tenant is not accountable for anything spoilt by reasonable use of the premises and the ordinary operation of natural forces. Although the source of this is unknown, it is a common guideline across the industry.
Figures from the Tenancy Deposit Scheme’s annual survey reveal that 56% of all disputes are made up of cleaning related issues. 43% is due to damage to property, 30% for redecoration, rent arrears make 17%, and 13% for gardening issues.
55% of all disagreements were raised by tenants who are unhappy about proposed deductions from their deposits. Of these, only 21% received all of their deposit back. 45% of disputes were raised by landlords and agents and out of these, just 19% collected the amount in dispute.
Chair of the AIIC, Pat Barber, says: “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 wall are no more than normal wear and tear.
“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.”
“There are two main things to remember with wear and tear,” Barber explains. “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. 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. This betterment principle applies to cleaning issues as well. If a carpet was badly stained at time of check in, a landlord cannot expect the tenant to pay for cleaning at time of check out, no matter how long the tenancy has been.”1