What constitutes reasonable wear and tear in a student house?
For most students approaching the end of their time at university, getting back their house deposit can be one of the most stressful aspects of moving back home. Disputes between landlords and students unfortunately occur with regularity, as the issue of fair wear and tear during the tenancy period rears its ugly head. At the time of writing there is still no legal definition of what fair wear and tear looks like in student properties; it is entirely subjective and dependent upon many factors.
This article gives landlords of student flats and households the lowdown on what reasonable wear and tear they should accept and what is considered genuine damage to the property.
Consider the length of the tenancy
Before you make a judgment call on the state of wear and tear during your tenants’ stay, consider the length of their tenancy. Obviously, the longer the tenancy, the more wear and tear a landlord should expect. Following a 12-month student tenancy period it’s possible one or two rooms may require cosmetic attention and some appliances may require servicing or replacing depending on their age prior to your tenants moving in.
Ensure you make a comprehensive inventory for moving-in day
One fool-proof way to assess the damage to your student property after a tenancy is to create a full and detailed inventory that’s agreed by the tenant(s) at the beginning of their tenancy. Also consider taking photographic evidence of each room and time stamping them to compare and contrast at the end of the tenancy agreement.
Examples of reasonable wear and tear in a student property
Deterioration or minor damage following reasonable everyday use of the property to carpets, paintwork, fixtures, fittings and any furniture.
Note: As we’ve already said, most landlords of student properties should expect to have to redecorate most rooms every few years. However, one example where a landlord could claim damage beyond wear and tear is where paint is damaged in a room due to blu tack and nails being used. If a rental agreement prohibits the use of blu tack or nails being used to put up pictures and posters etc a landlord is within their rights to make a claim against a tenant for the cosmetic damage.
What to do if you believe there is damage beyond wear and tear
If a deposit has been made by prospective student tenants, landlords have the right to try and agree with tenants on a fair amount that should be deducted from the deposit. Since 2007, all student deposits have been legally required to be held in a tenancy deposit protection scheme. If you are unable to come to a mutual agreement with a tenant you must file a dispute for third-party arbitration via the deposit protection scheme’s administrators.
Of course, landlords who let their student property via the SPCE app can vet prospective tenants through the app and have the security of pre-verified guarantors in the event their tenants don’t keep up with the rent or cause damage beyond reasonable wear and tear.
Both of those features (hopefully) increase the likelihood that your student tenants will treat your property with the utmost respect it deserves and leave you with a property that’s ready to turn around and let out for the next academic year.