Landlords and agents should appreciate ‘fair wear and tear'
By Simon Thompson
Landlords and letting agents do not have a full understanding of what can be deducted from a tenant's deposit for fair wear and tear, says the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks.
The AIIC says there is widespread misunderstanding of a legal ruling that holds that a tenant can’t be responsible for damage caused through 'reasonable use of the premises'.
The association's chair, Pat Barber, said she had lost track of how many agents and landlords had demanded that their property be repainted entirely after a long-term tenancy came to an end when marked walls were just wear and tear. Fair wear and tear is a serious issue
She added: “Everyone has an opinion of what fair wear and tear is and while letting agents and landlords may believe the responsibility is the tenant’s for a property to be repainted but the law might not agree.
“This is also true when assessing the contents and fittings and fixtures.”
The association underlines the fact that tenants have a responsibility to hand back a property at the end of the tenancy as it was in when they moved in - allowing for the expected wear and tear.
Claiming ‘new for old’ against a deposit
The law also doesn’t allow landlords to claim 'new for old' particularly if the item being claimed for was already old when the tenant moved in.
This issue also extends to the condition of carpets; if there was a stain on the carpet when the tenant moved in then they cannot be expected to be charged for a repair when they move out.
Ms Barber added: “Communication is key and letting agents and landlords should encourage their tenants to be there for the check-out so they are aware of the issues being raised, including cleaning and damage to various items.
“The discussion will inevitably touch on the subject of fair wear and but the overriding factor here is common sense.”
New book explains ‘fair wear and tear’
To help landlords and letting agents determine what they can claim for against a tenant's deposit, the AIIC has published a useful list.
This includes cleaning dirty ovens, bathrooms and kitchens since cleaning is not a wear and tear matter.
Damage to the home and contents can be claimed and will include things like burnt carpets, cracked baths and scratches to ovens and kitchen worktops and for broken windows.
The list also includes help for when a tenant paints a property’s walls without the landlord's permission, particularly if they have used a non-neutral colour. This will be the tenant's responsibility to rectify or pay for the cost of repainted.
The AIIC has now published a book entitled 'Understanding Fair Wear and Tear' which costs £9.99 and is available from the Association's website.
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