What is the definition of Wear & Tear in a Landlord Policy?
Wear & Tear is often claimed for and always turned down by insurers. That’s because Wear & Tear is a maintenance issue. Maintenance is the responsibility of the Landlord and a Landlord’s Policy is not a maintenance contract. However, wear & tear is open to interpretation and we aim to shed some light on what it actually is & what influences it!
If not Wear & Tear, what am I actually insured for?
Well, every policy wording will have a list of ‘insured perils’. These are what you as a Landlord are insured for. Example may be Fire, Malicious Damage or Theft. Your policy wording will expressly state that wear & tear is not covered.
What is Wear & Tear?
It is damage that happens to an object in ordinary use during a period of time. In a tenancy agreement it would be explained as ‘reasonable use of the premises by the Tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces.’ Such reasonable use will inevitably cause some wear & tear over time.
Landlords may for example insure their carpets under the landlord’s contents section of their policy. This will inevitably be more worn at the end of the tenancy agreement than it was in the beginning. This will be very obvious if the carpet was new when the tenancy began.
A reasonable amount of wear & tear in a Rental Property can be depend on several factors & can be open to dispute. Here lies the problem as many Landlord-tenant disputes have arisen over what is reasonable wear & tear. The National Landlords Association has provided some guidance to Landlords, and aims to help them decide what is fair & what’s not.
Important factors to consider:
- Length of the tenancy – If it’s a longer tenancy agreement then inevitable there will be more wear& tear.
- Number & age of occupants – The more people in the property, the more the wear & tear. If it’s a family with small children, there will inevitable be some scrapes and scuffs on the walls for example.
- Wear & Tear V Actual Damage to the property – If something has been broken then this will almost certainly be classed as damage. Let’s say the banister has been snapped for example, this is almost certainly damage due to some excessive force and not wear and tear. Dent in the Wall Plaster, again would almost certainly be classed and damage. It is recommended before making a judgement, as a Landlord you should consider whether an item has been damaged or worn out through normal or natural usage as opposed to a complete lack of consideration or negligence.
- Quality of Accommodation – Some newer properties have not been built with the same sturdiness of an older property. As a result they are likely to suffer stresses more easily. As a result, a landlord may have a much greater need for a painter & decorator at the end of the tenancy agreement.
- Prevention – Keep your tenant onside & this increase the chances of them renewing their tenancy. If they stay longer term, the less you will need to go in and redecorate every 6 months! You can also choose to freshen up the property regularly even if the tenant is there long term – this will reduce the chances of heavy refurbishment when they eventually do move out.
The above list is not an exhaustive one, but it should help to avoid any disputes & help the landlord considers what should be taken out of a tenant’s deposit, or what is a reasonable amount of damage considering. If you have a Residential Landlords Insurance Policy then you should think about contacting the National Landlord Association or call Property Insurance Centre on 0800 085 3761.