There are two sides to every story. Or two points of view at least, where landlord-tenant disputes arise from a difference in interpretation of fair wear and tear.
Fair wear and tear is defined by law as: reasonable use of the premises by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces.
However, this does not prevent it from being an area of dispute. What can landlords do to try and avoid costly disputes when it comes to interpretations of wear and tear?
How Should You Protect Your Property?
“While wear and tear can hinge on how people perceive the description “reasonable”, it makes sense for landlords to ensure that there is no room for ambiguity elsewhere,” Dominic explains.
This means being able to account for the condition and cleanliness of a property at check-in with an impartial, comprehensive inventory.
“Regardless of wear and tear, having the right evidence in place, including a clear visual record, of what the property looked like before occupation is vital in providing the right benchmark against which to set any wear and tear”
This inventory should include the fabric of the building, such as walls, ceiling and woodwork, along with the condition of its heating and lighting.
“The inventory becomes a living document of your property, so that it’s updated for each new tenancy,” Dominic points out. “This way you’re always up to speed with its condition and, importantly, so are your tenants when they occupy it.”
And ensuring the tenant also has a copy of the independent inventory provides a good degree of visibility and clarity.
In the Event of Adjudication
Unfortunately, there is always room for landlord-tenant disputes, and the issue of fair wear and tear is often the cause. What an independent inventory does is offer impartial visibility when it comes to establishing the condition of a property at the point a tenancy commences.
Dominic recommends a full cycle of property inspections to provide the right amount of evidence. For a one-year tenancy this means a check-in inventory, two interim property visits, before check-out. For longer tenancies, you might require visits every three to six months.
“The more evidence you have the better,” Dominic concludes, “but it is vital that the integrity of your evidence can withstand scrutiny. And integrity is what you get with a properly put together inventory.”