Wear and tear. It is one of those phrases that we all think we understand, but that can become vague and ephemeral when we try to really get a grasp of it.
In essence, normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration that happens to everything, and indeed to all of us, over the years. As a home owner, as well as a landlord, it will be a concept that you are only too familiar with. Nothing lasts forever, which is why we need to redecorate our homes, and repair or replace household equipment and electronics from time to time.
Defining wear and tear
So far so good, but the difficulty comes when we try to define “fair wear and tear”. Any tenancy agreement will state that the tenant should not be held liable for this kind of natural and reasonable deterioration during the course of their tenancy. The National Landlords Association has come up with some useful guidance notes, to define what is and is not reasonable.
In essence, it calls for pragmatism and common sense on both sides, but this can be in short supply when a significant sum of money in the form of a security deposit is at stake. Common causes for dispute include broken or damaged appliances, worn carpets, and chipped, scratched, or damaged paintwork and wallpaper.
Of course, the ideal solution for both you and your tenant is to minimise wear and tear in the first place. Here, we take a look at some ways for you to do just that.
Inspections and Maintenance
Wear and tear, by its very nature, creeps up over time. Conduct regular inspections, either personally or through your agent, and make sure that this is an understood and agreed upon aspect of the tenancy agreement. Human nature dictates that your tenants will take better care of your property if they know you are going to be paying a visit. You will also have the opportunity to spot any problems, and sort them out before they become serious and expensive.
Arrange to have the boiler and heating system checked and serviced regularly. This is particularly important from a safety perspective if you have a gas boiler, and you are legally required to ensure the gas safety of your appliances.
Mould build up is a natural phenomenon, but one that can cause you and your tenants a lot of problems. The subject has received its fair share of media attention recently, thanks to issues relating to some high profile celebrity landlords.
As well as looking unsightly and doing serious harm to your property, mould can be damaging to health so it is something you need to proactively avoid. Mould thrives in a room that is warm and moist, so hire a dehumidifier if your property is liable to such conditions and it will be well protected.
When it comes to wear and tear, nothing takes as much punishment as the floor covering. If you have white carpets throughout your rental property, then you really cannot be surprised if they end up stained and damaged.
Solid floors are harder wearing and longer lasting. They are also simple to keep clean, meaning less stress and worry for you and your tenants. Consider laminate flooring for living rooms, corridors, and bedrooms, and tiles for kitchens and bathrooms, to create a contemporary look that will last for years.
Speculate to accumulate
There is a common theory that when you are preparing a property for rental you should go for the cheapest option when it comes to appliances. However, this can be a false economy.
Choosing good-quality appliances that will last longer can save you money in the long run, and will save you time and trouble in maintenance. They will also make your property more attractive to potential tenants, and can provide an added incentive for them to treat your property with care and respect.
Ultimately, wear and tear depends more on human behaviour than anything else. Be selective about who is moving in, take references, and pay attention to them. When they are in, work to build a good relationship, and strive to always be on good terms with your tenants.
In the end, if they like and respect you, they will inevitably take better care of your property, resulting in it lasting longer and reducing the likelihood of problems at the end of the tenancy. This will work in the best interests of all parties concerned.