What is Wear and Tear?

Wear and tear in a property can often be a bit ambiguous in the sense that both parties can often be unsure of what exactly it is. You will see the term in a Tenancy Agreement but the interpretation can still seem a little vague. And that is why, here at Property Loop, we have produced this article in an attempt to make it easier for you, as a landlord, to understand.  

Basically though, it boils down to the following – is the item in question unusable because (a) it’s been used regularly overtime or (b) it’s been damaged by the tenant in some way.  

If we’re talking about a mattress, for instance, then the springs will obviously loosen as time goes on and it may not be as comfortable as it once was. If you’re having to replace the mattress though because it has a stain from a bottle of red wine having been tipped over onto it, then that is damage by the tenant.  

Why It’s Necessary to Define Wear and Tear

It is important to distinguish between what is wear and tear and what is quite simply damage. That’s because landlords can claim for a replacement item as an expense in their tax return. If it’s damage, then they can withhold money to buy a new mattress from the tenant’s deposit.  

If the tenant disputes this, then the matter will be resolved by a third party in an official arbitration process held by the statutory body who holds the deposit. Having said that, this is a very rare occurrence. According to government statistics Fortunately, tenancy deposit disputes are rare, to the extent there have been less than 1% since the Tenancy Deposit Sheme officially began back in 2013. 

What Is Wear and Tear in Rental? 

A stair carpet that has become almost threadbare is an example of wear and tear over a number of years. So too is blinds which have become dirty looking, faded curtains and a stainless-steel sink with scratches. 

Typical Examples of Tenant Damage 

Items which are damaged (and which you expected to last a lot longer) could be the responsibility of the tenant. This includes a chair with a broken leg, burn marks on a sofa and pet urine on the carpets and which it’s necessary to have professionally cleaned. 

Replacement Items Under Wear and Tear Scheme 

As we mentioned you can claim against tax for replacement items. The caveat, however, is that the replacement must be more or less the same cost as the original item (bearing in mind inflation costs). What this means is that you can’t replace a simple fabric sofa that cost you £300 with a luxury leather version costing £1000 and then write off £1000 against tax. You could, however, replace it with another sofa, priced £300 to £400. 

Why an Inventory for Your Property Is Essential

You can monitor wear and tear by taking an inventory of goods (and the state they are in) are the beginning of the tenancy. When the tenant moves out you can then take another inventory and judge the condition of the items based on the original inventory. That way you can tell whether or not it’s perfectly possible that the sofa would finally lost its bounce after a few years. Or, it could be that a tap was looking a bit scratched at the beginning of the tenancy so it’s no surprise it needs replacing now. 

Then again, if a pair of curtains are ripped but were in excellent condition when the tenant moved in then you can assume that is a result of damage.  

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