It is essential that as a landlord you protect yourself from redecoration and carpet disputes by accurately recording the condition of the décor and carpets at the start of a new tenancy. You need to be clear with tenant(s) what constitutes a “neutral colour” and what they need to do if they want to change the décor. Also when doing the check-in you need to highlight any stains on the carpet.
In any dispute involving redecoration costs and / or stained or worn carpets, one of the first things an adjudicator will do is look at the original inventory to see what state the décor and carpets were in when the tenant(s) took the property. The next thing they'll want to ascertain is how long the tenant(s) have lived at the property?
Industry guidance indicates landlords should expect to decorate every three to five years. So after this period any claim for costs, due to wear & tear, for décor and carpets is unlikely to succeed.
What guidelines will help a landlord out?
Yorkshire property lettings use the My Deposits Protection Service to hold the tenant(s) deposits and to settle any disputes. These are the general things that any deposit protection companies take into consideration when looking at a case:
- If you have a light coloured carpet where the entrance is straight off the street, you have to take into consideration higher wear and tear. In this specific area you can only charge for a percentage of the cost for the carpet being cleaned.
- If the tenant(s) have children under 5, wear and tear on the walls needs to be taken into consideration at 1 meter level or below e.g. hand prints not kids drawings.
- Areas where you are meant to touch stuff e.g. banister rails - you need to take into account more wear and tear. Therefore these areas can only be charged up to 50%.
- If there are no splash backs in the kitchen and you have cooker stains on the walls, you can only charge the tenant(s) for cleaning it not painting.
- If there are not sufficient tiles in a shower area and the walls have been marked, you can only charge the tenant(s) for cleaning it off not painting unless “excessive”.
- If there is water damage on a bathroom floor and there is no shower rail you cannot charge the tenant(s) (this is in regards to a shower over a bath not just a bath).
TO SUM IT UP - a property must have ways and means to prevent damage. If the property does not have these then you cannot charge the tenant(s) the full costs.
What tools will aid you as a Landlord?
- Make sure that you have a really detailed inventory which lists every specific item, rates it and lists any defects. The inventory must be very detailed with lots of photographs to support this. Make sure the tenant(s) signs this. If you have an inventory that just rates stuff e.g. walls - good condition, this is not enough. It needs to say what is on the walls, e.g. skimmed, painted magnolia, good condition, no defects etc.
- Make sure you take photos from the four corners of each room and take photos of specific items and essentially photos of damages. You need to take 100-150 photos to make sure nothing is missed.
- Give the tenant(s) a tenant handbook which tells them what they can or cannot do when living in your property (plain English). Often at the move in stage they are too excited and whatever you say will not be taken in properly.
When you carry out your 6 and 12 month reviews, refer back to the original inventory to confirm the condition of the property. If you do it regularly at these stages it prevents any big surprises at the move out stage. This appointment depending on the property should take 1 hour to 1.5 hours. It is worth its weight in gold! Please don’t forget to also read through any essential guidelines of how the tenant(s) should be treating your property. Have this in your original inventory and the paperwork you use at your 6 and 12 month reviews. If the same message is constantly told to your tenant(s) then it will be taken in the majority of the time.
I hope you have found this article helpful. We have found over the years that if you get the starting point right then everything else should follow smoothly.
If you want a Letting Agent that understands that attention to detail is essential then please give us a call.