Honourable and personal residential letting experts

The key things to remember when managing damages at the end of a tenancy are:

  • You need a good quality inventory agreed at the start of the tenancy
  • You can’t seek to charge your tenant to improve things compared with when they moved in
  • You need to cover the cost of wear and tear
  • All costs need agreeing with the tenant

At the end of any tenancy we complete an end of tenancy inspection to get a detailed review of the condition of the property and any contents in comparison with the inventory agreed at the tenancy start. Any missing items, damage or shortfall in cleaning standards are identified and agreed with the tenant.

We then establish the costs to:

  1. clean the property to the standard detailed in the inventory
  2. replace anything missing e.g. missing curtain
  3. address any damage e.g. replace a broken mirror; re-attach a kitchen cupboard door
  4. compensate for the loss in value or durability of something damaged where the item may not be replaced now e.g. a dent on a kitchen worktop; screw holes in a wall; stained carpet

With the exception of cleaning, when calculating costs for all items there is a reduction to allow for fair wear and tear, which is illustrated below:

Wear and Tear?

 

The concept of wear and tear can be challenging as there is no finite definition. It is a judgement which needs to take into account the number of occupants, whether there are any children, the age and condition of the item. Experience is also very helpful to judge whether a home has had a ‘hard life’ compared with others. The fact is the cost of wear and tear is down to landlords.

 

Wear and tear reflects the fact that a property will deteriorate through normal use, e.g.:

  • A tenant lives in a property for 2 years. The walls were newly decorated when they moved in. When they move out the marks on the walls are so substantial the walls need fully redecorating.
  • The cost charged to the tenant to redecorate the walls should be reduced by around 33%, as the decoration was about a third through its expected life of say 6 years.
  • Had the walls been decorated say 7 years before the tenant moved in, they may argue there is no cost to them for the damaged walls. In this case the inventory would be used to show the walls in a good condition and a reasonable contribution from the tenant negotiated.

Had the walls had some reasonable scuff or marks, these would be considered wear and tear and should not be charged to the tenant.

With all these issues there are apparent imbalances. If a wall needs marks addressing but the paint can’t be matched the tenant can be charged for touching up the marks but not for repainting due to the paint not matching. Therefore the landlord needs to constantly review what they spend in comparison with the impact on the future market rent. It is also wise to know the details of any paint used – there are many magnolia paints, of widely varying colours and rate of deterioration. Therefore we recommend using quality paint, e.g. Dulux Trade, as this tends to last longer and will therefore patch better when needed.

We discuss our findings from the end of tenancy inspection with the landlord to agree expectations and next steps. Any costs need to be agreed with the tenant before these can be charged to their deposit or no deposit scheme. The key to success is to be reasonable and keep relations positive to negotiate a fair sum swiftly.

Legal Updates on the Private Rental Sector from Maxine Lester Residential

Where agreement is unreasonably withheld by either party the issues is deemed to be in dispute, for which there are adjudication processes. Whilst these processes are free to the tenant, there is a cost to the landlord. The adjudication tends to find in favour of a middle ground if there is any element of doubt, which can mean a legitimate claim maybe reduced. Given this we strongly advise avoiding these adjudication processes unless there are significant amounts in dispute.

Throughout this our aim is to charge the tenant for the full cost to return the property to the condition shown in the agreed inventory, other than allowing for wear and tear.

If you have any queries or concerns then please get in touch