01 Nov 2018

What is fair 'wear and tear' in a rented property?

What is fair 'wear and tear' in a rented property?

Our National Leasing Director Adrian Sangster examines what is fair 'wear and tear' in rented properties.

In an industry that has seen many changes since my first involvement in it 26 years ago, one question I am still being asked today is: “What is fair wear and tear and how is it measured?” 

Wear and tear is a fact of life whether you are letting out properties or staying in them yourself. 

The difference is when you live in a property you don’t see wear and tear occurring in front of your eyes, however if you have let a property and don’t visit it for a few years the changes will be more visible and profound.  

This is often a source of contention between landlords and tenants and it is at this point the quality of the inventory is of the utmost importance to be able to resolve fairly.

What's reasonable wear and tear in a rented property?

A tenant cannot be held liable for changes in a property which are caused by ‘the reasonable use of the premises by the tenant and ordinary operation of natural forces’.  

For landlords it would not be unreasonable to expect walls and ceilings to require repainting every 4 to 5 years, or replace soft furnishings every 5 to 8 years.  

Everything has a limited lifespan and this is taken into consideration by an inventory clerk when compiling the end of lease report.

Also the law of ‘betterment’ means a landlord cannot expect to have old replaced for new at the tenants expense or charge cleaning costs for items that were soiled at the start of the tenancy. 

An example of this is where a landlord buys a new bed at the start of the tenancy. 

The property is let for 5 years and at the lease end the bed is found to be soiled and damaged to beyond what could be classed as ‘fair wear & tear’. 

The landlord will not be awarded the cost of a replacement bed.  They will be awarded a cost based on a 5 year old bed, which of course will be well below the value of replacement. 

The quality of items are also considered by the inventory clerk so if a cheap plastic kitchen utensil has been damaged at the end of a 2 year lease then it’s likely to be judged to be of no value, however if it was utensil from a high quality range then a higher dilapidation cost would be advised.

Decor and cleaning

Should there be any minor marks and scrapes on the decoration this would be viewed as wear and tear, however heavy marks, dents or gouges would incur a cost.  Again the value of the cost will be based on the condition of the decoration at the outset and the length of tenancy. 

Cleaning issues are never treated as wear and tear because if something can be cleaned, it should be and tenants are expected to clean the property to the same standard as it was at the start of the lease. 

In conclusion it is difficult to be absolutely precise when measuring fair wear and tear which is why it is important that those who prepare inventories are properly trained to do so. 

Since the introduction of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme in Scotland the quality of the inventory is crucial and as a result of Aberdein Considine policy to use only independent companies who are trained to Association of Professional Inventory Providers (APIP) or Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) standards, has meant our success rate at adjudication is believed to be among the highest in the country.

Scotland's property experts

If you are looking to buy, sell or lease property, Aberdein Considine can offer you the support of some of the most experienced property professionals in the country.

Our leasing and property management team act for more than 2,000 landlords across Scotland.

We are also an independent broker of buy-to-let mortgages and can offer home loans without any hidden fees.

If you would like to speak to a member of our team, call 0333 0066 333 or click here

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