Tenancies and Property Damage – What Do You Need to Know?
Renting is a formative experience that the majority of UK adults experience before making their own way onto the property ladder. With house prices and mortgage rates both on the rise, the rental market is in higher demand than ever before.
But for those new to rental, there is much confusion over the nature of rental, and the extent to which one is liable for a given property’s condition. Here are some of the key things to understand and look out for in relation to property damage.
Understanding Wear and Tear
Before we discuss the various ways in which you as a tenant might find yourself liable for property damage, it is important to understand a key distinction: between damage and ‘wear and tear’. Wear and tear are a standard provision in rental agreements, that protects tenants from unfair costs at the end of a given tenancy.
Wear and tear provisions recognise the effect of use on properties over time. Scuffs and marks are inadvertent, and a consequence of a home lived in; they emerge as a natural consequence of living and cannot be attributed to active mistreatment of a property. ‘Wear and tear’ cover a wide range of potential damages, from sun-damaged furniture to scuffed floorboards and carpet wear.
The biggest potential costs to tenants are presented by the fundaments of the property itself. Improper care of the property can lead to leaks, which can cause costly and penetrative damage – not just to your premises, but also to those of any neighbours.
The most common, though, relate to damages that breach specific clauses within your tenancy. A key example of this is the leaving of holes or marks on walls, from nailing, screwing or otherwise fixing artwork onto walls. Without properly covering and repainting these holes before moving out, your landlord will likely stick you for repainting and even replastering costs.
Naturally, there are potential damages that can result in significant long-term costs – especially where potential damage to other properties is concerned. One of the best interventions for mitigating the financial impact of such damages is tenants content insurance, which acts as a breakwater between you and emergency repair costs.
Of course, many tenants live in rented properties with furniture and white goods included – known as ‘furnished’ lets. With furnished properties, rental agreements grant appliances and furniture similar protections to the property’s infrastructure and condition. That is, any breakages or failures that do not fall under standard definitions for wear and tear may see the tenant liable for repair or replacement costs.
Items of furniture that receive heavy use are likely to wear and break, but there is a difference between wear-related breakage and damage. If an item of furniture is broken beyond repair by an accident or event, its repair or replacement cost will be taken into consideration at the end of your tenancy – unless you replace the item yourself, like-for-like, and notify your landlord accordingly.