How to decide what’s reasonable wear and tear

How to decide what’s reasonable wear and tear
Posted by Gary Cooper

When a landlord can return or withhold money given as a deposit is something that has been debated many times. Whether you’re the owner of the property or the tenant, it’s not black and white. As we’ve found at Outlet over the years, this is a very subjective subject. In 90% of cases, tenants are usually successful when it comes to any disputes over deposit money. However, there are certain times when damages have occurred that people living in the property should cough up for.

First and foremost, landlords should expect wear and tear. This is the phrase we give to the deterioration of carpets, walls, cupboard doors and windows as a result of having someone living in a home for a period of time. Worn down carpets, for example, happen as a result of someone living in the property and should therefore be expected by an owner. On the other hand, burns from cigarettes or candles and serious stains that have not been dealt with could all be considered for deposit money.

But as well as carpets, walls, doors etc, is the issue of furniture. A deposit is also used to cover items on the inventory, which should be approved by both parties when the tenant moves in. This should also provide details of the condition of each item. In the instance that a piece of furniture has seen more than a reasonable amount of wear and tear then money should be withheld from a deposit. This can include things like serious damage to surfaces as a result of carelessness, breakages of glass table tops, lamps or chairs.

Ultimately, negligence is the telltale sign. Tenants should be cautious about how they treat the property and any items within it if they want to get every penny of deposit back. They should also inform their landlord of any damages or issues as soon as possible after they occur (such as a wine spill for example) so that it can be dealt with and possibly repaired. It can also be very helpful for both landlords and tenants to keep photographic evidence.

Reviewing the damage done to a property after tenants move out can be subjective, and landlords have to be prepared to cover reasonable repair costs or repainting before new tenants move in. Overall, common sense must prevail if either wants to avoid taking the battle further.


Outlet offers a complete property management service, so we can handle things like inventories, deposits and outgoing tenants on your behalf. To discuss the service with us call today on 020 7287 4244.

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