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Deciding who pays for wear-and-tear to a rented home

28 August 2014

Deciding who pays for wear-and-tear to a rented home

Deciding who foots the bill for wear-and-tear to a letting property is a major source of stress and arguments for buy to let landlords and tenants.

Tenant deposit schemes and letting agents cite wear-and-tear as the top gripe for landlords and tenants at check-out time.

But most of the problems stem from one or both failing to understand the rules.

• For a tenant, they must return the home to the state as found at the start of the tenancy – less normal wear-and-tear

• For a landlord, charging the tenant does not include ‘new for old’ but the cost of returning an item to the original state at the start of the tenancy

The definition of normal wear-and-tear can also cause some moans.

Normal wear-and-tear depends on the type of tenant – a landlord would expect less scuffs and scrapes from a pensioner than a family with three toddlers who bang their toys against furniture and leave trails of finger marks up the walls.

The point is normal wear-and-tear depends on who the tenant is.

Some guide of which costs can be deducted from a tenant’s deposit is offered by the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks.

• Cleaning: This is not a wear-and-tear claim but a cost for the tenant to bear, providing the inventory shows the item that was clean at check-in

• Damage: Common damage claims include burns to carpets and flooring; chips and cracks to baths and sinks; serious scratches to ovens; cracked and broken windows and kitchen worktops burns. Putting these right can be charged to tenants.

• Walls: If the tenant has painted walls with a non-neutral colour, without the landlord’s permission, then the cost of repainting can be charged to the tenant.

• Gardens: A tenant’s play equipment, swimming pools and trampolines can damage lawns. This is not a wear and tear issue and the tenant must be held responsible for making good the damaged areas.

“I’ve lost count of the times that a letting agent or landlord 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.