Fair wear and tear and rules re: deposit deductions?

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    Fair wear and tear and rules re: deposit deductions?

    Hi there,

    Not a landlord but rather a tenant but interested in an objective opinion...

    Have recently moved out of a property having lived there for a year, it was brand new when we moved in (though not without issue as things weren’t picked up by quality control).

    The agent/landlord is requesting a deduction from the deposit for two items and has requested £400.

    The items are a small (1 inch) tear to the faux leather bed frame and a small scratch to the flooring in the hall.

    I have asked for a breakdown and justification but it took a month to even get the amount of the deduction and the agent is saying they can’t get hold of the landlord...

    The scratch to the floor is minor (an inch or so and not deep), we didn’t even notice it but it was picked up in the inventory. It may even have been there already as there weren’t photographs of the floor in the original inventory. There were other things they didn’t pick up like a crack to the marble on the bathroom shelf that was there when we moved in despite it being brand new. If it wasn’t already there then the only thing that could have caused it is a sofa delivery, which the landlord organised (the place was furnished).

    I accept the damage to the bed, I am paraplegic and had a leg spasm and my foot kicking it created the tiniest split (a testament to the quality of the faux leather).

    From having to pick a replacement sofa as the first wouldn’t fit through the door and nosing at what the other furniture cost, I know that the faux leather bed frame is £100 new.

    This means they are claiming at least £300 for a small scratch on the floor, which I find crazy...

    All the agent has come back with is that ‘most of it is for the floor’ and that as they aren’t charging for replacement and just for a contribution to replacement in future it is hard to itemise...they’re also acting like they’re doing us a favour by not charging for replacement, though my understanding is that even if something is damaged they can’t charge for full replacement only a portion based on age etc.

    We spent £300 on a professional deep clean (specified in terms of contract) and had a cleaner in every other week for a few hours so it isn’t like we haven’t looked after the place...

    Have been renting for 10 years and usually have no deductions...had a deduction once for a loose toilet seat...

    Does the floor constitute fair wear and tear? What would be reasonable as a deduction?

    Advice much appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Ryan

    #2
    Your landlord is entitled to compensation for any loss in value of their asset(s) beyond fair wear and tear for which you are responsible.
    Fair wear and tear is “reasonable use of the premises by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces”.

    The formula for compensation that they should use, and a court (and the protecting company ADR process) will use is:
    (Cost of the original item and any installation/fitting [not the cost of a replacement] / expected lifetime) * (expected lifetime - actual lifetime).
    That is, compensation for the lost value (life of use) of the item.

    That presumes that the item is entirely ruined and the landlord can show that it happened during the lease.

    A landlord is not entitled to charge his tenants the full cost for having any part of his property, or any fixture or fitting, “.....put back to the condition it was at the start of the tenancy.” It's not "new for old".

    So, let's assume a bed frame should last ten years (depending on the quality of the furniture - have a look on the manufacturer's web site, because they'll normally give x years warranty, which is a good guide.)
    Say it cost £100 and was 6 years old, you have cost the landlord four years of expected life, which is worth 40% of £100 which is £40.
    So your offer to the landlord could be worked out on that basis and you are entitled to ask for evidence.

    If a repair is a more cost effective solution than a replacement (or vice versa), the cheaper option has to be taken.

    Alternatively, an actual repair cost might be claimed, but again, this should be adjusted to reflect the tenant's share of the lifetime (but sometimes this is just meaningless).

    A scratch on the floor is simply cosmetic damage, so there's no lost lifetime (the floor is still functioning)

    They can't charge for a "contribution for replacement in future", they can only charge for an actual loss - which has to have happened.
    In real life, they're not going to replace the floor for a scratch and the ratio of floor to scratch would make compensation trivial.

    If the scratch isn't in wood, it might be hard or costly to repair, though.
    But if they don't repair it there's no loss.

    The landlord and agent won't agree with any of that, so I suggest that you advise them to take legal advice "as you have done".
    They don't know it was only on a forum!
    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

    Comment


      #3
      Was an inventory done before you moved in and did you accept it? If not the agent will find it very hard to prove the defects weren't there at move in time.



      Freedom at the point of zero............

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
        The formula for compensation that they should use, and a court (and the protecting company ADR process) will use is:
        Do you have a source for that?

        But if they don't repair it there's no loss.
        There is a loss. The loss in rent and calibre of future tenant (hard to quantify admittedly).

        Whether the landlord chooses to repair it or not is up to them.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Interlaken View Post
          Was an inventory done before you moved in and did you accept it? If not the agent will find it very hard to prove the defects weren't there at move in time.
          If I were the landlord and I decided to pursue this, I would provide sworn statements to the court that the floor was perfect on completion from the chartered surveyor, site manager, building surveyor, architect, floor fitter, snagger, estate agent, letting agent, cleaner, uncle Tom Cobley and all.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by boletus View Post
            Do you have a source for that?
            It's a general contract law "principle", so it came, originall, from study.
            One of the protection companies (I think TDS) have it in their case studies/examples, but they use the new value not the original value, which I think is wrong - but is obviously what they do in real life.
            There is a loss. The loss in rent and calibre of future tenant (hard to quantify admittedly).
            It's almost impossible.

            In this particular case, you could make a better argument than in others.
            The property was brand new, so any damage is going to have a negative effect.
            If the property was older, and this new damage was simply adding to existing damage, it would, arguably, have less effect.

            I don't know how that argument would be received, because it places a greater obligation on the tenant because the property is new, which they may already be paying a premium for.

            When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
            Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

            Comment


              #7
              Hello JPK,

              It is not something that should be used or will be used, it is just a guideline affected by a number of varying factors.

              Incidentally, the TDS lifespan guideline for hardwood flooring is 15-50 years, so not a lot knocked off for one years depreciation.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by boletus View Post
                Hello JPK,

                It is not something that should be used or will be used, it is just a guideline affected by a number of varying factors..
                Hi, if you go to court, that's the formula they'd use for any extra contractual claim for damage.

                I've done it with rental and lease cars (a lot) and property, residential and commercial (less).

                I'd suggest that it should be used.

                Never ever had something I claimed using that mechanism fail if challenged (and it's rarely challenged because it makes sense to the tenant and keeps the amounts claimed sensible).
                When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                Comment


                  #9
                  Am1988 just say you don't agree to the deduction and want the deposit scheme to judge what is a fair amount. It will drag it out but you will probably end up paying pennies.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I would suggest lodging a dispute with the protection scheme on the basis that the LL will not give you details of the deductions.

                    From what you write, I would say £90 is reasonable for the bed frame, so request the rest back.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Thanks for the replies - really helpful.

                      The agent still can’t get hold of the landlord (I think he’s an overseas investor).

                      There was an inventory, which we did accept but it didn’t include pictures of the floor.

                      Have attached pictures of the damage.

                      I’ve offered £100, which I think is more than fair...

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Well if the inventory did not include the floor for comment of pictures make them take you to a tribunal. Offering £100 is more than reasonable IMO.



                        Freedom at the point of zero............

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Apparently the landlord will be popping in to their office this afternoon/evening so hopefully have a response...otherwise will have to go through adjudication - any ideas how long that takes?

                          Comment


                            #14
                            It takes months - the deposit companies have huge backlogs, and they all seem to be months behind.

                            That scratch will sand out.

                            If the landlord doesn't accept the £100 they're a fool.
                            Without any evidence of the state of the floor when the lease began, they're not going to win the floor issue if it goes to adjudication.
                            When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
                            Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I think the reason they won’t is because the total deposit was just shy of £3k, which is a lot of money to have tied up for months... I assume they don’t release the non-disputed amount?

                              Comment

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