Resolution case study – redecoration and repairs

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We offer an independent and impartial resolution service for landlords, agents and tenants who are unable to agree on how to distribute the deposit when the tenancy ends.

We look at a recent case and break it down. Our Lead Adjudicator, Emma Louka helps you to understand our approach which in this case is about redecoration and repairs.

Deposit details

Deposit:                     £1200.00

Disputed amount: £1,050.00

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What happened?

The tenant said:

  • the walls and woodwork already had many marks and scuffs visible when they moved in
  • any additional marks should be considered fair wear and tear given that they lived in the property for over three and a half years
  • the landlord should expect more fair wear and tear where there are two young children living at the property


The agent responded, saying:

  • the walls and woodwork were in an excellent condition at the start of the tenancy and are now covered in large marks, scuffs and drawings, which the checkout report and photos show
  • there were also many holes which needed to be filled in the lounge where the tenant has removed their shelves
  • while it’s appreciated the tenant had young children, the deterioration is excessive and not fair wear and tear


What evidence was provided?

Check-in report, checkout report, dated photographs and quote.


What was decided and why?

  1. The check-in report recorded the walls to the lounge and bedrooms to be in an excellent condition with very few minor scuffs. The hallway and stairway/landing were in a generally good condition, noting some scuffs to lower levels and minor grubby marks
  2. The checkout report and dated photographs show that the walls in the lounge and bedrooms have several scuff/rub marks throughout, with some pencil drawings also visible to some of the bedroom walls and a total of twelve fixture holes present to the lounge wall. The hallway and stairway/landing were in a fair condition with marks and scuffs throughout, noting that these areas would benefit from redecoration
  3. It was concluded from the evidence that the walls were returned in a worse condition, with some deterioration exceeding fair wear and tear
  4. The adjudicator highlighted, however that the average lifespan of décor in a rented property is approximately five years. Taking into consideration that the property was not newly painted at the start of the tenancy and the tenant went on to live at the property for a period of over three and a half years, it was found that the loss incurred by the landlord as a result of the tenant’s breach was small. An element of redecoration would be needed at the end of the tenancy in any event as the décor was almost at the end of its lifespan, particularly in the hallway and landing, which are high traffic areas
  5. The adjudicator found the tenant responsible for the reasonable cost of filling the holes in the lounge as this work falls under ‘repairs’ and would not be needed following any length of tenancy, as part of general maintenance of the property
  6. The invoice supplied was for £1,050 to redecorate the lounge, two bedrooms, hallway and stairs/landing throughout (£900), including filling of the holes (£150.00). The adjudicator awarded the full £150 for filling of the holes which was found to be reasonable for the work required and £180, being 20 per cent of the redecoration costs



Tenant £720.00

Landlord: £330.00


How can you avoid this happening in future?

  • A landlord cannot be put in a better position after the tenancy than they otherwise would have been, had the tenancy not taken place. For any claim where full redecoration of an area has been carried out, an allowance must always be made for fair wear and tear for the length of the tenancy and its original condition if it was not newly painted
  • It’s important to bear in mind the average lifespan of decoration and other items when considering what might be a reasonable contribution to request from the tenant’s deposit
  • It’s important for the invoice to breakdown the costs as much as possible so that the adjudicator can make more accurate awards, depending on the deterioration to each area
  • Carrying out a pre-checkout inspection can be worth doing to highlight any repairs, giving the tenant the opportunity to make good before leaving. Where there are no surprises, negotiation may be more successful at the end of the tenancy


For more information read our guide, fair wear and tear – what it is and how it is applied and our guide to the life expectancy of rental products.