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Help! Dispute over wear and tear after 6 years of tenancy


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I have left a two bedroom property that I privately rented for 6 years. Prior to my tenancy there was a tenant for 6 months and otherwise the house was a new build. Everything was in good condition when I moved in, complete with washing machine, oven and fridge freezer. Everything was fine for first three years then Landlord (with whom I was friendly) moved from local area to run a pub and barely had contact since. I have not wanted to bother him with minor repairs such as light fittings not working, slight sink leak, and worn lino. He has not undertaken any checks during this time either. I replaced lino with new laminate floor. The property is very tired, I left it clean but on removal of furniture it is clear that the whole property needs redecorating, recarpetting and all the appliances, although functional, are very dated. My Landlord is now claiming I must restore the property to the same state it was in when I took occupancy. Is this reasonable? It would cost me thousands to do this and surely it is his responsibility to redecorate and replace appliances for the incoming tenant? I would be very grateful for some advice on this, he has given me seven days to complete the work or prove it will be done by 31st March. I have pictures of the empty property if of interest, and letter from landlord. Many Thanks!

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Many landlords imagine that they are entitled to have their property returned to them as new. This is ridiculous and is the same as hiring a car and then having to return it with zero miles on the clock.

 

Normal wear and tear means getting back the property in reasonable used - not abused - condition.

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Thanks, well nothing was abused. There are no wine stains, fag burns or anything like that on the carpets, they are just worn from footfall. There are scuffs on the paintwork from people brushing against them. I had the bathrooms and kitchen cleaned by a cleaner and they look great to me, but there are slight limescale buildups in one sink and the toilet bowls. The fridge has a black stain in the back that appeared over time and wont budge. Do you know if household items have a depreciation or recognised average life?

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The big question is - what is it that he is dangling over your head?

 

Is he witholding the deposit - and how much is that? or is he simply threatening to take legal action?

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The deposit is £750 (one months rent) and to be honest I do not expect to get that back and have accepted that. However what he is demanding I do would cost far in excess of that so I want to be (fairly) sure his request is unreasonable before I refuse. He can then take legal action if he wants and I guess the courts will decide, I just wanted to sense-check whether he was being reasonable or not.

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Make sure that you have everything noted down in detail and that your photos are complete.

 

A good idea would be to contact him with a letter telling him that as he appears not to be happy about the condition of the flat, would he mind setting out his complaints in writing.

This will give you a chance to see exactly what he is bleating on about. Keep bvery polite. Don't divulge any your own information but get him to commit himself in writing.

If you see that there is anything there in which he might be justified then try to come up with a sensible value to putting it back into a reasonable used condition.

 

This kind of attempted dialogue will give you a lof of good standing if it goes to court.

 

After the dialogue is completed, you can see where you stand.

Then if I were you I owuld take him to court for your deposit. I wouldn't give him an inch. Landlords like this need to be taught a lesson for the sake of all tenanats. - By the way, there are lots of unreasonable tenants too and they deserve a lesson too.

 

A small claim like this - where you have got everything logged and set out and where there is proof of a genuine attempt to have a dialogue, is very easy and your chances of winning are very high and the risk of losing anything other than your court fee are almost zero.

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Thanks for that advice, I have been in correspondance with him via e-mail so have evidence which I could post here too but it's quite boring - He says what he wants doing, I concede that a couple of things are my responsibility but the rest is wear and tear, he comes back saying our ideas of wear and tear are different and he wants it all redecorated and so we are back to square one. I have just asked for a copy of the itinery (I know, I should have one) as I can't believe his claim that I signed a document that says I will completely redecorate on exit. Will let you know when/if I receive it.

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The way arguments about "betterment" work is if a carpet (say) is expected to have a lifetime of 10 years, but needs replacing after 6 years (due to excessive wear and tear or damage) then LL would only be entitled to 40% of the cost.

 

Don't think there is an official lifetime of things, but I would have thought that one would argue that the decor in a newbuild would have a short lifetime since it is usually two coats of trade paint, one of them thinned with water. And carpets in new houses are usually pretty cheap (assuming they were fitted by the builder).

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LL can expect property to be returned in 'similar decorative state/condition' as when let, less allowance for fair wear & tear.

 

It soumds like that since LL moved away and you stopped bothering him with minor problems, then you may have undertaken work without LL prior permission or tolerated broken light fittings. IMO lino should be durable for more than 6 years with normal traffic. As a LL,I can expect to revigorate property (emulsion & gloss) after 5-6 yr but rarely do light fittings break without external influence. Similarly for new washing machine, after 6 years it may look dated but with normal T care, it should not need replacement if not mech/electrical faulty.

Sounds like LL is 'disappointed' by move-out condition. Unless you can negotiate acceptable settlement, then one of you will have to resort to DPS ADR or SCC for decision, when onus of proof will be on LL.

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Thankyou for your post, good to get a LL's slant. I am gratified to hear it is not unreasonable to expect revigoration (emulsion & gloss) in this period. The light fittings are under-unit lighting in the kitchen all on the same transformer (LL told me this). The LL tried to fix himself with new transformers twice in the first year but within weeks of the last fix they were not working again and I felt bad troubling him for a third time. There was no interference from me - I wouldnt recognise a "transformer" if it came up and shook my hand! The washing machine IS still functional, it just sounds like a rocket taking off and shakes the whole house. The lino ripped, I can only think it must have been a chair leg, after 3 years revealing concrete underneath. It also had pocked in several places and knowing all out neighbours they confirmed that the cheap, underlay-less floors had been unreliable in all the new-build properties. My lesson here I think is its better to always inform LL rather than spare him/her the trouble, but still maintain that HE should have initiated at least one check in three years?

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