Head of Dispute Resolution at mydeposits Jersey, Suzy Hershman offers her top tips and guidance when dealing with wear & tear
For a long time, the issue of fair wear and tear has been very much a grey area. Landlords and tenants often disagree over what is classed as fair or excessive damages which often leads to deposit disputes.
Fair wear and tear has been defined as “Reasonable use of the premises by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces”; therefore when renting, it is completely normal that at the end of the tenancy, there would be expected wear to the property, such as scuffs to walls and hard floors – this type of damage is considered unavoidable.
For this reason, tenants can’t be held accountable for any damages that fall under this bracket, so repairs as a result of fair wear and tear is something you’ll have to pay for yourself when maintaining your property.
Similarly, if damages caused by a tenant are excessive and are not classed as fair wear and tear, then reasonable deductions can be made from the tenant’s deposit to accommodate for the cost of repair or replacement.
Although you might not be able to stop wear and tear taking place entirely, there are steps that you can take to minimise the impact of wear and tear, both fair and unfair:
Preventing excessive wear and tear
Building a good, professional relationship with your tenant can be extremely beneficial – it can lead to excellent communication between both parties and can put you in a better position to give good advice on how to maintain the property and hopefully avoid unnecessary damage.
Conducting mid-term inspections is a great way to identify any issues as, when and if they arise. This will allow you to resolve any problems quickly, which is a better alternative than waiting until the end of the tenancy and finding that initial minor problems have gotten worse due to the time that has passed.
A detailed inventory, made up of thorough written descriptions and supported by photos and video, can be used to keep a record of the property’s condition both prior to its occupation and after the tenant has moved out.
You should clearly date this evidence, digitally preferably, and ask for the tenant to sign it so that you can both agree on the condition of the property, both before and after the tenancy.
Photographs and video footage of damage such as burns, stains and scratches can be very useful in verifying and establishing responsibility and will be required as supporting evidence if your tenant wants to dispute any deductions that you have proposed.
The adjudication process
In the unlikely circumstances that a deposit dispute takes place, our adjudication process is available as an independent service to resolve any deposit related issues. Similarly to the petty debts court, strength of evidence is pivotal to each case and the adjudicator will make a decision solely on what evidence has been submitted by each party.
Stay in control of your property
Ultimately, it’s essential to be in the know regarding fair wear and tear before a tenancy begins – not only will this help you understand what damage qualifies as a tenant’s responsibility, but it will also allow you to know what to be particularly vigilant for when it comes to protecting, maintaining or replacing aspects of your property.
Remember, always stay informed on the conditions of both the interior and exterior aspects of your property as this will help mitigate expenses and save you time
Check out our disputes resources for further information.
Head of Dispute Resolution