For a long time, fair wear and tear has been a grey area for landlords and letting agents alike; this is because it tends to vary from case to case, due to factors such as what the condition the property was in before the tenancy began, and the expectations regarding the level of normal usage from the tenant.
It is also important to understand that landlords are not entitled to be compensated in a way that sees the property improved at the tenant’s expense.
That is, the tenant will not pay for damages that would occur from the start of the tenancy through natural use.
The House of Lords defines wear and tear as “Reasonable use of the premises by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces”.
So what forms of damage can be considered “reasonable” and naturally occurring, or unreasonable and beyond that of normal use?
Read on to find out more about the most important criteria to use when considering fair wear and tear before making a decision on deposit deductions.
Eventual Deterioration of Decoration – Keeping Invoices
Unfortunately, decorations, fixtures and fittings all deteriorate over time and eventually will eventually need replacing.
The quality of decorations and appliances can vary drastically depending on age. For this reason, the amount a landlord is entitled to when damage takes place can vary, too.
In most cases, if a brand new carpet was fitted at the start of a two year tenancy, it should reasonably have at least another three years left of use left in it once the tenancy is over – the general “consensus” being that an item in a rented property will have a lifespan of around 5 years.
So, if the tenant has damaged the carpet to the extent that it needs replacing, landlord rights allow them to claim up to 60% of the cost of a replacement.
In matters such as this, if you know the age of your furnishings and decoration, and better yet have the invoices to confirm it, you can then formulate a sound judgement on how much wear the item has had during the tenancy from start to finish.
Your Type of Tenant(s)
It is important to take into account the type of tenants that you have in the property. For example, you would tend to see less wear and tear from a professional couple than you would with a family or student tenants across the same length of tenancy.
Furthermore, this is also true for shared areas of the property that will be getting increased use.
You would need to account for an increased level of wear and tear caused by children discovering their surroundings; scuffs and tears are almost inevitable in normal family life, so bear this in mind.
Whether it be a family, a professional couple or a student house, each will generally bring them with different levels of fair wear and tear, which could affect whether or not your intend to make deductions to the deposit.
Duration of Tenancy
It’s important when assessing what kind of damage your property’s furnishings have undergone to take into account the length of the current tenancy. It seems obvious that the longer the tenancy has been, the more natural wear there will be to the property.
However, you should also consider, as an example, how much wear a carpet in your own home will show after one, two or three years.
Then, consider what the condition was when the tenant first moved in; was it brand new or had it already endured several tenancies? Take these factors into account for your final evaluation.
Although there are some scenarios where it’s more obvious as to what is fair wear and tear regarding tenant usage and what isn’t, we hope the above has provided you with a better idea on what you can and can’t claim for.
In the unlikely event that your tenant refutes your reasons for making deductions from the tenancy deposit, or denies accountability, then our deposit dispute resolution team is always here to help you through the process.