Q. I am a first time tenant in London having moved here from the states and not sure how things work with regards to the and check in/out fees and dilapidation’s against fair wear and tear. I’m just about to move in so need to know where I stand. Can you advice?
A. Being a novice at renting here in the UK can present you with pitfalls if you don’t know your rights as a tenant, so it’s best to read up and arm yourself prior to entering the rental sector. Most of the questions that you raised will be answered in your AST (Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement). Here it should be quite clear as to who is responsible for the check in and check out. Usually the Landlord is responsible for providing the Inventory and paying for the check in charges at the onset of the tenancy and you the tenant is responsible for the checkout fee. Always make sure that a professional inventory has been carried out, this is paramount as the condition of the property is recorded in this prior to moving in and you should then be given a copy to make sure you agree with the report and are given an opportunity to make any comments or amendments to the schedule so long as you do so within 10 days of receiving the report. Then when it comes to the checkout the condition of the property will be recorded once again after you have moved out. When is it no longer normal wear? If it’s in good condition at the start of the tenancy but broken at the end, meaning either replacement or repair by a specialist. Or if it’s possibly more than a conventional painter and decorator job? Light marks on the carpet might have to be viewed as unavoidable, fist marks in the plaster would not be. Equally, damage such as nail varnish spills on the floor or iron burns that have occurred due to negligence could see you as the tenant liable for repair. Consider whether the item has been damaged or worn out through natural use versus sheer negligence when making a judgement call. In a debate about whether cleaning/repair is necessary versus complete replacement at the end of the tenancy, an adjudicator will examine the Check-in/out report, Statement of condition and any photos in order to make an assessment of the condition of the property in relation to the original condition. Wear and tear is a topic that is open to interpretation. Ultimately, as a tenant, your aim is firstly to minimise the level of wear and tear in the property and secondly to ensure that you have covered all bases in the unlikely event of a dispute with your Landlord over the return of your deposit.