Landlords have to accept their properties will suffer some wear and tear while let, and you shouldn’t deduct anything for “fair wear and tear” from your tenant’s deposit, but how much is “fair” and what’s excessive?
This will depend on how long the tenancy has lasted and how many and what type of tenants were occupying the property.
For instance, if your property has been let for only six months, you should not expect to see many signs of wear. If, however, your property has been let to a large family for five of years, it would be fair to expect some deterioration, such as scuffed walls and faded walls where pictures have been hung, etc.
A landlord must take into consideration all of the above when deciding whether the amount of wear and tear is “fair” or excessive.
An inventory combined with check in and check out reports will help as the inventory clerk should indicate whether they think any damage or general wear and tear is the tenant or landlord’s responsibility. However, they won’t tell you how much to charge the tenant for anything they consider to be above normal wear and tear, you will need to work this out yourself.
When working out deductions, you need to consider the value of the damaged item, the age, how much longer it was likely to last and whether it can be repaired rather than replaced.
You can’t simply charge the tenant the replacement cost of the item.
For example, if a tenant badly damages a sofa that cost £1000 five years ago and you would have expected it to have lasted a total of 20 years, you could deduct £750 from the tenant’s deposit to put towards the cost of a new one.
Dirt is not wear and tear. A property should be in the same state of cleanliness at the end of a tenancy as at the start. It’s very important that you make sure the inventory report states the cleanliness of the property and the contents and that the tenant signs the report agreeing that it provides an accurate record.
As most arguments between landlord and tenant relate to cleanliness (or lack of) I suggest you arrange for the property to be professionally cleaned at the outset and state in the tenancy agreement that it must be cleaned to a professional standard at the end.
Also, you could send them this end of tenancy check list when they’re getting ready to move out to give them a gentle reminder to hire professional cleaners and let them know exactly what has to be cleaned.
If the tenant disagrees with any of your proposed deductions, try not to get into an argument with them. It’s better to reach an amicable resolution and agree a figure you can both live with than risk the tenant referring the matter to the deposit protection scheme, which they are entitled to do. If they do, you’ll have to send the disputed amount to the scheme’s arbitrators plus evidence to support your proposed deductions.