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Confusion Over Betterment Principle in Deposit Disputes

April 10, 2015 | Landlord News  

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Research from a property inventory service provider has, unsurprisingly, found that 80% of landlords have used inventory evidence gathered at the start of a tenancy to win a deposit dispute at its end.

But there was also found to be confusion surrounding what exactly can be claimed against tenant deposits. Some 60% of landlords owned up to not understanding the betterment principle, which essentially means that a landlord cannot claim for more than has been lost.

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For example, if a carpet was a few years old at the start of a tenancy, and was expected to last 5 more years, but is ruined prematurely, the landlord cannot use the deposit to claim for the cost of a new carpet, but can claim for the 5 years of value lost at the time it was rendered unusable.

Fair wear and tear, however, was much better understood, with 90% of landlords found to be able to define it. Although, landlords and tenants don’t always agree what constitutes ‘fair’. The difference, according to deposit protection schemes, comes down to use versus actual damage.

Only 6% of landlords were found to make regular spot checks on the property, and 60% said they never visit their properties to check the condition.

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