Plan Insurance Blog

Top Tips For Settling Landlord Wear and Tear Disputes

Damage to their property being described by tenants as “wear and tear” is a common bone of contention for a landlord. Costs incurred due to willful actions or lack of care by renters can be a contentious issue at the end of a rental period.

Below we run through some key questions relating to this potentially stress inducing topic.

Preventing disagreements over claims of fair “Wear and Tear”

Should disputes regarding a damage versus wear and tear claim escalate a tenancy deposit partner can step in to aide the resolution. However following the below pointers could help avoid the situation occurring in the first place. And, if third party mediation is required at least you’ll be in a strong position to argue your case:

Landlords should compile a detailed inventory with suitable photographs and potentially even videos at the beginning of a tenancy. This process should then be repeated at the end of the rental agreement. Relevant written records, emails, invoices and reports should all be filed appropriately for future use. These procedures could prove crucial when it comes to assessing the damage caused by the tenant. Settling the dispute will still be subject to an element of opinion but having the means to support your claims will be vital.

It’s also important to have realistic expectations regarding the nature of the use that your property will experience and the state that tenants will potentially leave it in. To a large extent this will relate to understanding the type of tenant you are renting to. It will also inform the decoration, fixtures and fittings choices you make. For example you might use wipe clean paint in a kitchen if you’re expecting a family to be residing in the property.

The next piece of advice probably applies more to temporary or “accidental landlords” but its highly recommended that you remove any expensive or sentimental possessions from the property that you’d be upset should they end up being smashed, scratched, dented or potentially even destroyed! It’s hard enough reaching an agreeable resolution in certain instances but it will prove even more challenging if emotions run high.

Providing tenants with guidance regarding the behaviour your expect from them during their tenancy as well as any routine maintenance tasks they should perform could prevent unwanted issues arising. Making their responsibilities clear along with the potential cost of failing to care for the property and the items within it, should help encourage them to fulfil their end of the agreement.

You could also supply a notifications protocol for them to follow if and when they notice potential problems. Conducting regular inspections at three or six months intervals would assist with detecting any problems before they arise or at least avoid them escalating in seriousness.

Itemising the suggested logic behind any bill that you present to a tenant is a worthwhile tactic. This can demonstrate that you have carefully thought through the charges and will potentially prevent confrontation or ill-feeling.

What counts as wear and tear in a rented property?

The technical definition of ‘fair wear and tear’ is, ‘Reasonable use of the premises by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces’. People’s views on what might be considered reasonable often vary.

What needs to be determined is the deterioration in the state of possession in question that has been caused by the period of time it has been used, as intended? And how much is the reduction in value due to irresponsible actions or oversights by the tenant?

Is the worsening a fair reflection of standard activities given the number of people using it? Alternatively is it in excess of what would normally be expected. All the circumstances should be taken into account. For example, wear and tear in let property occupied by 8 students will be expected to be heavier than in a property rented by a professional couple.

It’s important to remember that wear and tear claims should refer to the ‘condition’ of a property or item and not the ‘cleanliness’. The tenant is obligated to return the property in a state of cleanliness that matches the standard it was found in at the outset of the rental period. This principal applies regardless of the duration of the tenancy. Issues relating to the cleaning of property should be tackled separately.

Any avoidable damage, such as burns on worktops or scratches on tables, that were not present at the beginning of the rental period will be classed as damage as opposed to “wear and tear.” The cost of replacing or restoring the item should fall to the tenant.

How to calculate wear and tear damage costs on rented accommodation property?

  • It’s fairly obviously that the longer a tenancy lasts the more significant the levels of reasonable wear and tear that will take place. This needs to be factored into the sums for a reimbursement settlement figure.
  • Check your inventory for the original condition
  • What is a fair life expectancy for the item in question given the nature of the tenancy?
  • What was the value of the item in question? If for any particular reason it was of a higher specification than usual than this assertion will need to be supported by evidence in the form of an invoice, receipt or report. It should ideally be made clear in the aforementioned inventory.
  • The outcome of the dispute needs to be the most appropriate for all involved. It can’t involve a landlord finding themselves in a “better” financial position than they were originally. If a used possession is being replaced with new item a discount should be applied to the amount charged to the tenant, this should take into account the original used condition of the item. Alternatively repair should be sought if the items restoration is achievable at a more reasonable rate.

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