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The fairness of wear and tear

10th Dec 2016

The subject of long term tenancies is a hot topic at the moment, and they may present advantages for both landlord and tenant.  However, these benefits could be overshadowed by the potential for increased deposit disputes as properties let under longer agreements tend to display more signs of wear and tear, and require more expenditure at the end of a tenancy.

Since the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) began collecting data in 2007, cleaning has consistently been the most common cause of dispute featuring in 56% of cases in 2013 – the highest level recorded to date.  Disagreements about damage and decoration follow closely behind.

The average length of private tenancies is now reaching 20 months, and it is clear there is a need for longer term tenancies to be available, especially for families.

However, the longer a tenant stays in a property, the more likely it is that the property will be subject to wear and tear, and when this occurs, a landlord could decide to hold on to the deposit in order to cover the cost of repairs, redecoration and cleaning bills at the end of a long term tenancy.

Landlords and agents have different expectations from tenants when it comes to fair wear and tear issues, so it is no wonder that so many tenancies end in dispute.  Normal wear and tear is a fact of life with rental properties, just as it would be at home, but if landlords and agents wish to avoid the hassle of arguments over who is responsible for damage, they need to prepare a thorough inventory of the condition of the property that details the condition of everything in it.  And since a detailed inventory is designed to protect both the landlord and the tenant, it is not unreasonable to suggest splitting the cost of having one professionally prepared.

Obviously, there is a distinct difference between fair wear and tear and actual damage – for example carpet tread will flatten over time, where there has been foot traffic, but cigarette burns, stains or soiling will require a charge.

Aside from ensuring there is a fair contract in place at the start of a tenancy agreement, a professional and detailed inventory will enable both parties to be treated fairly and reasonably.  As the industry is becoming more and more regulated, one option is to step away and let someone else take the hassle.  At Sow & Reap we would be happy to step in and manage this for you.  Contact me today to discuss your property needs in more depth.

Richard Bond

Lettings Manager

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