The tenancy agreement confirms tenants must return the property in the same condition as the start of the tenancy. As general rule damage by a tenant must be negligence. If damage is made by a tenant by negligence, then you can claim. If it is malicious you can claim. They can make good the redecoration. However, they must consider the fair wear and tear.
RICS, ARLA, NAEA and Asset Skills have provided the following guidance. This gives the lifespan of items in a rented property for redecoration. This can help in determining what allowance to make for wear and tear. This guidance is also used by the DPS (Please see our previous article relating to Tenants Deposit Protection, click here) in the event of a dispute over the deductions:
Hall, landing, stairs – between 2 to 3 years
Living Rooms – approximately 4 years
Dining Rooms – approximately 6 years
Kitchen and bathrooms – between 2 to 3 years
Bedrooms – approximately 5 years
Budget carpet 3-5 years Medium quality 5-10 years
Top quality up to 20 years
Washing machine 3-5 years Cookers/ Ovens/ Hobs 4-6 years
Fridges 5-8 years
In their “Summary of the principles of dealing with Deposits, Disputes and Damages” leaflet, ARLA say:
- Minor damage to an item, a small to medium stain or mark on a carpet or mattress: £15-£35. A small to medium sized chip or mark, scratch or burn on a kitchen worktop: £5 – £25.
- In the case that these items need replacing in their entirety we will claim any cost. He may have to apportion the figures. They must show that the charges are reasonable.
It is important to fill in any holes in the walls. They must then redecorate the whole room not just one wall. They must fix or replace any broken items. If any rooms have been painted a different colour, they must be repainted the original colour.
How much should you claim?
Many landlords believe that the property should be returned to them in the same condition at the start of the tenancy. Deductions are often claimed from the deposit in minor damage that should be expected in normal use of the property. Landlords might want to replace items in the property which are coming to the end of their natural life, such as old washing machine where the door handle has broken during the tenancy.
The house of laws define wear and tear as “reasonable use of the premises by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces”.
The word “reasonable” can be interpreted differently, depending on the type of property and who occupies it. It is an established legal principle that the landlord is not entitled to charge tenants for the full cost of having any part of their property, or any fixture or fitting, put back to the condition it was at the start of the tenancy. The landlord should therefore keep in mind that the tenants deposit is not to be used like an insurance policy where you might get “full replacement value” or “new for old”. The landlord also have a duty to act reasonably and not to claim more than necessary to make any loss.
An example of how this can be calculated is as follows;
- Cost of similar replacement
- Age of existing item
- Average use or lifespan of the item
- Residual lifespan of the item calculated as follows;
C – B
- Appreciation of the value rate as calculated;
- Reasonable apportionment to tenant as calculated;
D X E
An example of this for a carpet replacement would be as follows;
A = £500
B = 2 years
C = 5 years
D = 5 years minus 2 years = 3 years
E = £500/5 years = £100 per year
F = 3 Years X E = £300.00
Please note this would be the reasonable view when coming to an adjudication at one of the schemes. However, it is not always the appropriate approach. It can differ from case to case.
The landlord cannot do betterment.
Betterment is when the landlord is claiming the costs of making the property better than when the tenants originally moved in. This is not allowed under any of the deposit schemes. It includes for example, above expectation of tenants to return the property cleaner than when they moved in, as well as replacing old goods, fixtures or fittings with new or better, or redecorating the property at a higher standard than at the start of the tenancy.
However, landlords are entitled in the event that the property was fully professionally cleaned when the tenants first moved in to expect it to be fully professionally cleaned when they move out. Obviously, a residual lifespan needs to be taken into account so tenants aren’t left with the full cost of replacing furniture that can only have use for a couple of years as outlined above.
What would be a reasonable clauses?
To replace any items at the end of the tenancy and provide new. This is usually seen in student tenancies and relates to such items as mattress protectors. Any clause that receipts to transfer and obligation of the landlord onto the tenant.
Clauses allowing the landlord to enter the property at any time without prior notice.
What do the schemes take into account when dealing with adjudication?
It is almost impossible to understand how deposit schemes work as every Government backed scheme has a different way of dealing with it. However, there should be guidelines for adjudicators in relation to the deposit.
We would think the most common factors of a particular decision are as follows;
Length of tenancy.
The longer the tenancy the more natural wear. Common sense but think for example how much of a wear the carpet in your own home is after one or two years then consider it at the beginning of the tenancy. Take this all into account before claiming for repairs.
The number and age of the occupiers.
The more bedrooms and the more occupants the higher the wear and tear should be expected in all the common parts. For instance passages, stairs, bathrooms, kitchens etc. If you are letting to a family with children that needs to be taken into account too. Scuffs and scraps are unavoidable in normal family day life. A property occupied by a single person should see far less wear and tear than a family of four.
Wear and tear VS actual damage.
When is it no longer normal wear, ie damage and in need of repairs? Breaking something is not wear and tear. This can mean it should be replaced or repaired. Light marks on the carpet may be viewed as unavoidable. On the other hand damage such as nail varnish spilt on the floor or iron burns would occur due to negligence and would see the tenant liable for the repair. You need to consider whether the item has been damaged or worn out through natural use rather than negligence. It is a judgement call.
Quality and condition.
Consider the quality of the item at the start of the tenancy and what is originally cost to provide. It would be unreasonable for a landlord to provide cheap and flimsy bedroom furniture and then blame the tenants for damage through normal usage. Other considerations take into account the quality of fabric and the property itself. Many new blinds tend not to be quite as robust as older properties or conversations. Walls, partitions and internal painted surfaces tend to be thinner and therefore likely to have more stress. Particularly in higher footfall areas of the property. This inevitably means that there is a greater need for redecoration at the end of the tenancy.
This only relates to any breach of the tenancy agreement. The terms and conditions include the charges applicable.
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