This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Reasonable wear and tear - rental property(20 Posts)
Not sure if this is the right forum but I'm interested to hear opinions/experiences from renters and landlords.
I rent out a property to a lady with two children. She's moving on soon and although there isn't any significant damage, she perhaps doesn't have the same standards when it comes to cleaning....
For example, the carpets on the stairs and in the bedrooms are now filthy and will require either a professional clean or replacing. I assume they go up and down with shoes on. These weren't new when they moved in but were clean. I don't think this counts as 'reasonable wear and tear' because I would expect people to take shoes off upstairs?
There is also a water stain on the ceiling caused by the tenant leaving a skylight open and going on holiday for a week - not sure what's a reasonable amount to charge for this. We are repainting the whole property anyway.
The oven hasn't been cleaned in 4 years. I will be tackling this myself - is it fair to charge?
You are saying that she's not moved out yet. How do you know about the oven and carpets as you don't have access? I would assume that she will get an end of lease house clean and oven clean. She may well hire a company and get the carpets cleaned. If not, you charge the fee for the oven clean and the carpet shampoo. My DD is doing all of the above when she moves out. Why would you assume that your tenant won't?
If you're repainting anyway then you charge nothing for the water stain as it hasn't cost you anything.
You can charge for carpet cleaning, oven cleaning and general cleaning at professional rates. Keep receipts from the cleaning company because if she challenges the amount you need to be able to show these are genuine costs.
Dirty and stained carpets isn’t fair wear and tear; but after four years, neither can you charge her to replace the carpets as if they were new because that would be “betterment”. You can charge either the cost of cleaning them or, if you opt to have them replaced, an apportioned sum for doing that. This is a clearer explanation: www.propertymark.co.uk/advice-and-guides/landlords/fair-wear-and-tear.aspx
If things like the oven need cleaning then again, you can charge for the equivalent cost of a professional oven clean: you’ll need to get quotes to submit to the tenancy deposit scheme.
Likewise the water stain, if it needs testing you can charge for the cost of putting it right, but not for the cost of repainting the property because after four years it would be assumed you would need to do that anyway.
You're right Perfume, I'm making assumptions. She may well get everything cleaned but hasn't mentioned this. I have been over as she's let me take a decorator round to get quotes. I had a quick look in the oven to mentally prepare.
She's a nice lady and I have no intention of being unfair. I've never rented a house out before so I'm looking for guidance. I also have to check myself because it used to be my home and I feel sad about the state it's in now but it's to be expected with renting I suppose.
I wouldn't charge for 'surface' cleaning as I would expect to do this anyway.
Thanks for the responses so far.
Has she lived there for 4 years? If so, the stair carpet is a "heavy traffic area" and so could be considered fair wear and tear.
You could possibly charge for the bedroom carpets to be cleaned, but not replaced.
Have you carried out any inspections over the duration of her tenancy & taken photos?
If yes and you noticed the oven hadn't been cleaned, why didn't you mention it to her?
If no, how do you know the oven has been cleaned in 4 years?!
WRT the watermark - were you made aware of this when it happened? If so, you should have asked her to make good a repair or paint job as the water/damp could have caused further damage than just a watermark
Firstly, do you have anything in your tenancy agreement about what is expected at the end of the tenancy? A good one will stipulate that a professional level clean of all the things you mention is required.
If you don't then you could send her a pre-end of tenancy email mentioning that you noticed that the oven/ carpets etc needed cleaning and give her the chance to hire professional cleaners to do this and give you the receipts. You could pre-warn that if this isn't done then you will look to deduct these amounts from the deposit.
Alternatively, you could play it very matter of fact and imply that this is what's expected:
"Hi tenant, I thought it might be useful to give you the contact details for some companies who specialise in end of tenancy cleaning. They should be able to get things back to a level which will hopefully ensure that I don't have to make any deductions from your deposit.
Yes she's been in for 4 years. I would expect some discolouration of the carpets but not to this extent.
It has been inspected 6 monthly by a letting agency. No mention of the condition of the oven in reports. Never thought to ask really but when I noticed the general lack of cleaning I had a look inside. Again I'm making an assumption that she's never cleaned it but it's definitely not clean and will take a lot of elbow grease.
We were aware of the leak at the time, yes. Haven't asked her to rectify but it's still damage caused by her. It will only need some stain block and a tin of paint so will probably just charge for that.
I was never going to ask her to cover the cost of carpet replacement btw.
Thanks cornflake, that's good advice. Yes we stipulated that it should be returned and it was found, obviously allowing for reasonable wear and tear.
Has a letting agency been handling all the rental of it? If so, then you shouldn't need to get involved. The agency should have made an inventory of the condition at the beginning of the tenancy and should then cross reference it with another one at the end. Only then should you worry about deductions if there is a difference in condition.
If you are paying an agency a monthly fee then this is their job!
I agree with cornflake mum, if you have a letting agent dealing with the property, why have you visited and why are you dealing with the deposit and deductions?
The whole point of inspections during a tenancy is to check on the state of the property and its contents. Ie, if the carpets were dirty, advising the tenant that they will require cleaning, rather than let them get further into disrepair and suggesting the tenant clean the oven as it's easier to do regularly than leave to get worse.
Hi OP—not a landlord but have rented a lot of properties over the years!
I don’t think what you are describing is actually related to the issue of reasonable wear and tear, its to do with cleaning? Presumably when you have the keys over the property was cleaned to a professional standard, and the contract says when they are returned it must be cleaned to a professional standard? And would normally also stimulate that carpets must be professionally deep cleaned? If so: would remind tenant that this needs to be down, or will be deduced from deposit.
Stain on ceiling from water: if the property is going to be repainted anyway I would ignore it, so you still have the paint used originally to do a touch up?
Were the carpets and oven cleaned before the tenant moved in? You can only expect the tenant to clean to the same level as the property was at the beginning eg professional standard, high level domestic clean, basic domestic clean. However, you can't require her to pay for professional services unless she doesn't return the property at the same level of cleanliness and you need to have it cleaned.
You also have to factor in the age of the items and their quality. If the oven was domestic level clean, i.e. it had marks on the door/shelves that couldn't be removed without professional level strong chemicals, you should expect it to have even more stains after 4 years at the same "level of cleaning". Small marks/stains on carpets are fair wear and tear. Wearing shoes upstairs would also fall under acceptable use. Does the carpet look like you would expect a carpet to look like of that quality at that age (the life of a carpet would be considered 5-15 years, depending on the quality) where someone has been wearing shoes upstairs?
Any charges you make have to be what they cost you so you would be better off hiring someone to clean the oven rather than doing it yourself.
The damage from leaving the skylight open is the tenant's responsibility as they were negligent. You should get several quotes before going ahead with the work and agree the cost with the tenant before the work is done. If she reported it at the time and you didn't ask her to repair it or arrange repairs yourself, you wouldn't be able to charge for any further damage caused by not repairing it immediately.
@CornflakeMum OP can't write to the tenant suggesting professional cleaners. The tenant might interpret it as a hint that if they don't use professional cleaners, OP will make deductions from the deposit. It is illegal now to require tenants to pay for professional cleaning, even if it was professionally cleaned when they moved in.
@orangenasturtium - yes, fair point, she can't specify that professional cleaners HAVE to be used, but she could point out that the service exists should she want to use it.
My tenants (young working couple) had no idea that an "end of tenancy cleaning service" was even a thing and were grateful when I pointed it out as a service I regularly used. They were happy to pay someone else to do it, and I was happy for them to!
However it sounds as if the OP shouldn't really be in contact with the tenant directly anyway if there is an agency involved.
To be perfectly honest. If they were my only issues after someone rented my property for 4 years, I'd be overjoyed.
It is hard when it was your home, to see it looking a bit neglected, but in that 4 years you'd have had more done to it yourself, or yes, been a little more careful - but it's worn/dirty carpet - not holes in walls etc.
I may have to rent my current home out in the future - Not something I'm looking forward to, but I'm trying to be pragmatic about it.
Hi, I'm a landlady & would just add not to forget that you've had a tenant for four years solid - if payment has been regular then you've had a really good run, no money lost through empty months between tenants over those years. I would expect a clean oven. The other stuff I'd let go as I'd be expecting to redecorate after four years anyway.
We stopped with the letting agent a couple of months ago unfortunately!
I will take a look at the tenancy agreement and check the wording. I'll also send the tenant a reminder about the expected levels of cleaning.
Most of it is just surface cleaning which I'm not worried about. Hopefully she'll sort most of it before whe leaves.
Like I say, she's a nice person and don't want to end on bad terms. I was also aware that she had two kids and was expecting a certain amount of wear and tear so no intention of being a cow about it!
I become a landlord by circumstance rather than choice so it's all pretty new and confusing to me!
Thanks for the advice, really helpful.
Good point Scribbling she's been a good tenant. Never missed a payment. I think I perhaps need to detach myself emotionally!
@ReluctantEarlyRiser You need to look at the original inventory, which should have details about how clean the property was on move in and any damage.
Be aware that the tenancy agreement may contain clauses that are now illegal, such as the requirement for professional cleaning. There was a grace period when the Tenant Fees Act 2019 did not apply to tenancies that started before the act but that ended on 31 May 2020.