In our last blog we covered some of the factors that should be taken in to account when considering if damage to a property and its contents constitutes fair wear and tear. As we pointed out, although there is no statutory definition of fair wear & tear, there are nevertheless some good pointers which should assist landlords and tenants to reach agreement at the end of a tenancy.
As most of us know, a tenant has a duty of care to return the property at the end of the tenancy in the same condition, as that recorded on the inventory at the start of the tenancy, with fair wear and tear excepted. If you have lived in a property for two years the wear and tear allowance would be greater than if you had only lived in the property for 6 months. Similarly a family of five people would be due a greater allowance than a single person.
It is also a general principle that a landlord should not end up, either financially or materially in a better position than he was in at the commencement of the tenancy or than he would have been at the end of the tenancy having allowed for fair wear and tear.
If the damage to an item at the end of a tenancy is not considered to be caused by fair wear and tear, the appropriate remedies available to the landlord could range from:
• Repairing or cleaning the item
• Replacement of the damaged item where it is either severely and extensively damaged beyond economic repair or, its condition makes it unusable
• Compensation for the decrease in value of the item or the shortening of its useful normal lifespan
One of the generally accepted fairest ways of taking into account fair wear and tear and also avoiding betterment is called the Apportionment Method – a process of breaking-down the costs of ‘fair wear and tear’ into measurable portions and thereby allowing you to assign a monetary value to items in what can appear to be a very subjective process.
By way of example, if a carpet is stained with ink or dye during a tenancy it would not be considered to be normal wear and tear and if the stain cannot be removed by cleaning, then the most appropriate remedy may be to replace it and apportion costs based on its age and expected lifespan.