Fair Wear and Tear?…..

21 03 2012

Hello from a warmer Stoke-on-Trent although not much Sunshine peaking through 😦

Here are a selection of some enquiries sent to our legal team for advice on the ever relevant subject of ‘fair wear and tear’ and deposit claims. Please feel free to comment, happy reading 🙂

Question
Is there an official line regarding depreciation of carpets and decor? There is a stain on a carpet, this is quite prominent. Also the landlord wants a whole room redecorated, due to some holes where a blind had been fitted, this would be repairable. The landlord is renovating the property anyway.
Answer
Having discussed this with you, in relation to the information guidelines which are provided by the
Rent Service regarding depreciation; it would seem that the circumstances of this case indicate that
the carpet and decor are past the age when the costs would be written off with little or no residual
value. It is clear that you believe this landlord is consistently over reaching in claims from deposits
when managing their portfolio and, in principle; they do not want to go to arbitration with the DPS.
Recently in respect of another of their properties, you had a situation where you waived your fee to placate them. You are unable to support the landlord in this particular claim as you do not believe it to be justified, therefore you should consider your relationship with the landlord and the fact that dealing with them seems to be costing you money.

Question
We have had a tenancy in a new build for just over six months. I did the move out visit; the property was left in a bit of state with dilapidation. The tenant did not stay the whole time during the check out visit, as she had child care problems, I reported to her via email. I now have a problem which I did not highlight in the report. When the tenant moved in to the property last year the garden had been laid to lawn, and was in good condition. The tenant did not mow the lawn at all until just before vacation of the property when the grass was over a foot long. There was a gap of a week before the new tenant moved in. It has now been two weeks since the check out and it is now clear that the grass is dying off and probably not going to grow again. The tenant is pushing for settlement of her deposit. How should I go about this as I had not realised at the time of check out that the grass would not grow again? I have informed the tenant that there is a problem and I am taking advice.
Answer
As you have confirmed that you have photographs and documented evidence of the good condition of the lawn at the start of the tenancy, that you had warned the tenant regarding care during the tenancy (and have photographic evidence showing that it had been cut and was in a brown condition at the end of the tenancy) you should get an independent opinion from a gardening professional confirming that the grass is dead and will not grow back into a lawn. If this is the case, obtain a quotation for re-turfing. This will form the basis for negotiation of an appropriate deduction from the deposit.

Question
A tenant has been fiddling with a shower and reported a broken knob, which we sent a contractor
quickly to attend to. However, the contractor reports that when he got there the shower cover was off and the tenant had been turning the knob spindle with pliers. The resulting damage means that the shower cannot now be repaired by obtaining and fitting a new knob and a new unit will have to be fitted.
Answer
The tenant will have to accept some responsibility and cost toward the replacement shower, which
would not have been necessary if he had not tampered with it. The shower is two years old, so there
will be some betterment associated with replacing it. If you gather the information regarding what
would have been the repair cost, as opposed to the cost of replacement and adjust the balance of
contribution to reflect wear and tear/betterment, this will give you the basis of negotiation to try to get agreement from the landlord and tenant as to how the cost will be divided.

Question
I have just done a move out, the tenant has replaced beige curtains, which match the decor with some of a different colour which definitely do not match. Also they have changed the cabling for digital TV from Sky to Virgin. Can the landlord insist that the tenant replaces the curtains to match the original, which are only worth £25, and pay to have Virgin taken out and Sky reinstated?
Answer
It is fair for the landlord not to accept the curtains and hopefully, due to the low-cost, the tenant will agree to the replacement of the curtains. With regard to the TV you have confirmed that the landlord is not returning to the property and, in your opinion, the service provider of digital TV will make no difference to the prospect of re-letting. The tenant may have made an economic decision, as it may be that the alternative service provides the same service for a lesser fee. Suggest you investigate this before making your recommendation to the landlord.

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