The “betterment principle” is a key part of determining a fair tenant deposit deduction but according to a recent study carried out by My Property Inventories, 60% of landlords admit to not understanding it. This often leads to unrealistic expectations of what can be claimed against tenant deposits.
The betterment principle states that if an item was old at the check-in, the landlord cannot replace it with a new item and only compensation towards the item is allowable.
Fair wear and tear has also to be taken into account but agents, landlords and tenants often have different expectations on what is fair wear is. There is a clear difference between fair wear and tear and actual damage. For instance, where there has been foot traffic, carpet tread will flatten over the time but cigarette burns, stains or soiling would incur a charge.
The betterment principle also applies to cleaning issues. A landlord can´t expect the tenant to pay for carpet cleaning at the check-out if the carpet was stained and marked at the time of check-in.
To reduce the number of deposit disputes it is essential that detailed move in and move out inventories are recorded. At Home in Edinburgh undertakes a detailed written and photographic inventory detailing all items and their condition at move in which is checked against at the move out. Regular quarterly inspections are also undertaken so any issues can be addressed during the tenancy.
( Source: My Proprety Inventories research amongst 500 landlords, April 2015)