It’s the three words all landlords despise: wear and tear. But what does it actually mean? Is wear and tear an excuse for carelessness or can it be measured? Where does wear and tear end and where does damage begin? We understand exactly how confusing the issue can be. We also understand how it can reflect upon a landlord or tenant. This is why we’re bringing you our guide to fair wear and tear to offer some answers and solutions.

What is Wear and Tear?

This question is certainly a tricky one. The truth is, wear and tear differs from situation to situation. It’s unfortunate but there are no clear rules on what is ‘reasonably acceptable’. Having said this, common sense must always be used. If you fit fresh white carpet in a bedroom, you can’t expect it to be fresh and white a year later. If that same carpet is burnt and stained with red wine marks, it can be considered damaged.

There are a few key points that affect the definition of fair wear and tear:

  • Length of tenancy – the longer a tenant stays, the more wear and tear you’ll see.
  • Number of occupants – the more occupants in a property, the more likely there’ll be wear and tear.
  • Age of occupants – when there’s children in a property, there’s a much higher chance of wear and tear.
  • Quality of the property – if you’ve got a newly refurbished property, there should be little wear and tear. Having said this, wear and tear in new properties is far more apparent.

Negligence and Recklessness

If something requires repair, intensive cleaning or the care of a specialist, it’s most likely been damaged. Holes in walls, burn marks and broken furniture are all examples of damage. It’s worth asking whether the issue has come about due to negligent or reckless behaviour. Comparatively, is the issue a symptom of natural use?

How to Prevent Wear and Tear?

One of the best ways to deal with this problem is to actually prevent it from happening in the first place. This isn’t an exact science, there’s no way to completely stamp out wear and tear or damage. Having said this, there are a few handy tips to keep it to a minimum:

Decorate Appropriately

Don’t create a showroom house which looks perfect but will never be used. Decorate appropriately for the property you have. This means opting for the durable items which will stand the test of time. Buying cheap is tempting as a landlord but you’ll forever be replacing items.

Keep the Property Clean

It sounds so simple but this really does go a long way. You set the acceptable standard for your tenant. If the property is immaculate when they move in, they’ll want to keep it that way. If it’s a little scruffy with no attention to detail, they won’t take pride in its upkeep.

Be a Good Landlord

Again, this is pretty much as basic as it comes. If you keep the tenant happy and show your professionalism, they’re more likely to treat the property with respect. Be prompt in addressing repairs and maintenance issues. Make yourself easily available. If you show that you care, they will too.

Look for Long Term Tenants

This can be a little tricky but it’s worth it in the long run. Look for tenants that will actually stay at your property for an extended period of time. These tenants are more likely to take pride and ownership of your property.

Regular Inspections

There are some very clear rules on how you must approach an inspection – you can’t just turn up and take a look around. The problem is, these regulations often put landlords off inspecting the state of their investment. Schedule in a quarterly inspection and make note of any wear and tear or damage before it gets too far. Address the issue there and then if needed. Inspections are a great way of quelling problems before they get too far.

Set Your Expectations

There’s no harm in outlining your expectations from the beginning of the tenancy. Explain to your tenant that the property will require regular cleaning and maintenance to ensure it stays in a good condition.

Examples of Fair Wear & Tear

Sometimes, it’s easier to establish what’s considered fair wear and tear by highlighting a few examples. Here are a few issues you’ll encounter which should be labelled as wear and tear:

  • Fading/furniture indentations to carpets
  • Small scuffs/marks on walls
  • Naturally worn down carpets
  • Loose hinges/handles on doors
  • Faded/cracked paint
  • Frayed fabric
  • Small tears/cracks on furniture
  • Faded curtains
  • Dirty windows
  • Loose/tight tap handles

Examples of Damage

Like the above list, here are a few examples of what can be considered damage:

  • Broken locks
  • Broken doors
  • Tears, large stains or burns on carpet
  • Large scratches on wooden floors
  • Burnt/split kitchen worktops
  • Holes in walls
  • Poorly painted surfaces
  • Torn curtains
  • Broken windows
  • Broken toilet seat

An Inventory Check In & Check Out

One of the biggest issues surrounding wear and tear is the deposit disputes that occur when a landlord and tenant disagrees. This is made even more difficult when there’s no photographic evidence to resolve the issue. It’s fair to say, this is an issue which can be stressful for everyone involved. With No Letting Go’s inventory services, you’ll receive the peace of mind which comes with an impartial, fully documented check in and check out procedure. Our service is reliable and consistent producing reports which stand up to scrutiny during any dispute. Find out more about how we can help make the inventory process seamless here.

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