More and more landlords and agents are attempting to include additional damage into check outs without any photographic or written evidence to support it, according to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC). Landlords and agents keen to keep the deposit and charge tenants for additional costs to repair or decorate a property, are looking to add new damage to check out reports, which were never recorded at the check in.
‘We have seen many cases where the landlord or letting agent has not bothered to read the check in inventory, so when it comes to the check out, they are up in arms over issues, which they believe should be included in the check out and charged to the tenant,’ said Pat Barber, chair of the AIIC.
‘In one case, we had an agent requesting that a balustrade on a long sweeping staircase was treated with a new French polish because it was bearing just a couple of light scratches. Whilst this had been French polished before check in, a balustrade in a house with four sharers will show some wear after a 12 month tenancy. The landlord requested that the inventory clerk change the check out report to enable the tenants to be charged when this was clearly a normal wear and tear issue and not something that a well trained clerk would agree to,’ she explained
She pointed out that the underlying problem is twofold. ‘Firstly, landlords and agents don’t read the inventories and check in documents, so they have no real idea of the detailed condition of the property and its contents. Secondly, landlords, agents and tenants have different expectations when it comes to fair wear and tear issues,’ said Barber.
‘Obviously, there is a distinct difference between fair wear and tear and actual damage. For example carpet tread will flatten over time where there has been foot traffic, but cigarette burns, stains or soiling will require a charge. Normal wear and tear is a fact of life with rental properties, just as it would be at home,’ she added.
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The association says that the best way that landlords and agents can ensure that the property’s condition is fully recorded is by having a comprehensive inventory in place at the start of any new tenancy and a thorough check-in and check-out report completed. ‘Members of the AIIC are experts in assessing fair wear and tear and have the knowledge and experience to take into account all factors and make a reasonable judgement as to whether something is fair wear and tear or not,’ said Barber.
According to the AIIC, the most common damage found in rental properties includes iron burns on carpets, cigarette burns, soiled marks on baths, UPVC window sills and frames, heat damage to polished wooden furniture and stiletto heel imprints on wooden floors and vinyl. The AIIC is committed to excellence and professionalism in the property inventory process and works hard to ensure that all landlords, tenants and letting agents understand the importance and benefits of professionally completed property inventories.