Here is a blog clinic question from Helen (not her real name) who is a tenant:
Hello, I moved into my rented property 2 years ago….its a fairly new house in good condition which I have maintained.
However I was never given an itinerary of any little marks or damage already at the property and I am now due to move out.
I am concerned that the landlord is going to try to blame me for stuff that was already there in the first place and take my deposit……any legal advice on where I stand?
It is a shame that there is no proper inventory. It is a good idea for tenants, if their landlords do not get this done, to keep a record themselves, just to be on the safe side.
Fair wear and tear
However there is also the concept of ‘fair wear and tear’ which will protect a tenant. Landlords are not entitled to have the property back in the same pristine state in which it was let (assuming it was in a pristine state).
They are entitled to have the property back in a reasonable condition taking into account the fact that it has been lived in. As you have lived in the property for two years, minor scratches and the like will probably be put down to fair wear and tear.
Landlord burden of proof
Note also that for any damage that is not fair wear and tear, the landlord has to prove that it was done by you and did not precede the tenancy. So the fact that there is no detailed inventory will count against them here as you can say (if the case goes to tribunal) that it was there before you moved in.
It will be difficult for the landlord to prove otherwise unless he is able to show that the scratch (or whatever) was not there when you moved in.
Any adjudication relating to property damage always starts from the position that the deposit money is yours and so the landlord must prove that the damage was done by you – which is why tenants tend to be more successful in adjudications than landlords.
You will find some more tips in >> this post.