What Is Fair Wear and Tear?

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Differences over what fair wear and tear is have been costly – this critically affects the return of the tenant’s deposit.

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My|deposits, a tenancy deposit protection organisation, has put together a guide for landlords offering advice on how to make a reasonable judgement call.

Domestic tenancies have to allow for wear and tear which is reasonable. However, there are no specific rules about what is ‘reasonably acceptable’. The House of Lords suggests that fair wear and tear incorporates ‘reasonable use’ of the premises, combined with ‘natural forces’ which come into play.

Seven Principles

My|deposits supplies seven points to help landlords.

1. Number and Age of Occupiers

ear and tear in common areas. Children account for scuffs and stains – a single person will have a far lighter tread.

2. Wear and Tear Opposed to Actual Damage

Broken items are obviously damaged. Light marks in a carpet may be tolerable; fist shapes in the plaster would not be acceptable. Nail varnish spills and iron burns could well cost the tenant. Consider whether cleaning or replacement is called for.

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3. Accommodation Quality

New-builds are often not robust. Partitions, walls and painted surfaces inside are often thinner and subject to more stress. Redecoration is therefore more likely.

4. Prevention

Encourage tenants to extend their leases, and explain the benefits of cleaning. For those staying longer than two years, refresh the property regularly to minimise the need for full redecoration.

5. Photo and Video Evidence

Photos and videos are a valuable source of proof when taken before and after the tenancy. Evidence should be clearly dated.

Try to document carpet stains, burn marks, flooring damage, woodwork scratches and furniture rips. An inventory may also be required. Give the tenant a copy at the check-in and check-out stages, and ask them to sign it. Be available for discussions about any deduction you plan to take.

6. The Adjudication Process

Should a dispute arise, the adjudication process is independent and evidence-based. If you can supply concrete evidence, you have a better chance of winning.

Property Inventory Software companies streamline portfolio administration. One such firm is https://inventorybase.co.uk/.

For legal information see: https://www.netlawman.co.uk/ia/fair-wear-tear-damage.

7. Best Practice

Ensure you have covered all the bases in the event of a dispute, and be prepared for claims.

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