Replacing damaged or missing items in a rental property
At the end of a tenancy, landlords may deduct money from the returnable deposit to cover damaged or missing items. But remember that you must stick to the strict rules laid down by the Government-backed deposit protection schemes. By law the deposit remains the property of the tenant.
You cannot make deductions for the full replacement value of an item: you have to take normal wear and tear into account, as well as the item’s quality and condition at the start of the tenancy.
From April 2016 the Wear and Tear Allowance for furnished properties has been replaced by relief for landlords allowing them to deduct the costs they actually incur on replacing furnishings, appliances and kitchenware in a property when calculating the profits of a property business.
More information on this change can be found on the gov.uk website here.
If an item is damaged, but not so badly that it needs to be replaced, then you can make a deduction from the deposit to compensate for the damage and the reduction in the item’s lifespan.
If an item is missing, the cost of replacing it should be based on its second-hand value at the end of the tenancy.
Even if the damage appears to be deliberate, it will not cost more to repair than accidental damage. So you can’t hold back more than a fair contribution towards repairing or replacing the item.
This is why it is vital to have a thorough inventory – including photos – of all items in the property.
Invoices showing the original cost of the items or manufacturer’s guarantees can also be useful in establishing an item’s age and quality.
Why can’t I have new for old?
You can’t expect a tenant to pay the full cost of a new replacement (with its increased lifespan, lower maintenance costs, warranties etc.) for something that was not new when the tenancy started. This is referred to as ‘betterment’, meaning that you have gained financially more than you would have expected to at the end of the tenancy.
How long should decoration and carpets should last?
Although only a general guide, the information below may be a useful starting point when making allowance for fair wear and tear. This gauge is approximate and assumes an averagely sized property with average use.
Average lifespan of decoration
Hall, landing, stairs: approx 2 – 3 years
Living rooms: approx 4 years
Dining rooms: approx 6 years
Kitchen & bathrooms: approx 2 – 3 years
Bedrooms: approx 5 years
Average lifespan of carpets
Budget: approx 3 – 5 years
Medium quality: approx 5 – 10 years
Top quality: up to 20 years
This is one of the 50 most asked questions in our book: Landlord Intelligence.