How can a Landlord fairly assess damages at the
end of a tenancy?
The tenancy has ended and the check out report processed. You (The landlord), having reviewed the report,
see that one of the bedroom`s in your property has been found with
multiple sticker marks and many picture hooks. In your tenancy
agreement there was provision for the tenants to put up a maximum of 3
picture hooks per room. The walls were all newly decorated just before the
tenants moved in. The tenants have put up 15 picture hooks on the left bedroom wall, 9 on the right wall, and the rear wall has approximately 100 sticker marks scattered
to its surface.
So how would you resolve this situation fairly? The first thing that may come to your mind is that all the walls need
repainting, and the tenant should be liable for this. This may be true for
the bedroom walls that have been degraded by the sticker marks and hooks however there are a few things you should bear in mind first.
You may have heard of the term Betterment.
Let`s start with the tenant. It is a principle of law that the tenant does not
need to leave the property in better condition than in what he found it at the
start of the tenancy. Additionally, it is extremely important that the landlord
takes fair wear and tear into account before considering the claim.
relation to the landlord would mean that you (as the landlord) have no
obligation to replace any item with an item of a higher value. For example: If the
fridge breaks down during the tenancy and the tenant requests a new one, you would only need to provide one of roughly the same value.
Reverting to the example of damages above. Sticker
marks and the additional picture hooks are certainly not fair wear and tear.
So how would you calculate a fair sum for the tenant to pay? How to carry out a fair damage assessment? Lets throw an equation and example into the mix.
The tenants have lived there for 3 years. They
consisted of two couples. The expected lifespan of the bedroom wall after they
were newly painted is approximately 5 years. So depreciation needs to be taken into
account. The potential lifespan of the walls is a further 2 years.
You have done some calculations and the cost of redecorating the room will cost £500.
A - Useful lifespan of the decorations to that
room - 5 years
B - The age of the decorations at the end of the
tenancy - 3 years
C - Potential remaining lifespan of the
decorations - 2 years (a minus b)
D - Cost of redecorating the
E - Depreciation of
divided by A) - £100 per year
F - Liability for the
tenant- £200 (E multiplied by C)
So in this case, £200 for the room with stickers and picture hooks would be fair plus an additional amount for filling the holes (from the picture
hooks) and/ or additional work required to removed the sticker marks.
There will also be a time when a tenant damages a
fixture, fitting or item but it does not warrant complete replacement. For
example, The tenant has recently checked out and after viewing the check
out report, you notice 3 small candle burn marks have been noted concerning the
reception carpet. If the stains or marks are not big or large enough to qualify
for carpet replacement, the landlord would have to accept compensation for
reduction in the value of the item. However, if the carpet was completely
ruined by stains, marks etc., the landlord could certainly claim for
replacement, but would still not be able to claim the full replacement cost due
to depreciation (age of the carpet at the end of the tenancy). A fair amount
could still be claimed though, depending on the age of the carpet.
References :A guide to best practice for
inventory providers - ARLA Asset Skills NAEA RICS 2007 including