The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) says many landlords are still unaware of the betterment principle. This means that if an item was old at check in and after, say a two year tenancy there is some additional damage, the law does not allow the landlord to simply replace the item with a new one and charge the tenant the full cost. In other words, the landlord cannot claim “betterment” or “new for old” from a tenant’s deposit.
The betterment principle is also applicable when it comes to cleaning. Pat Barber, Chair of the AIIC says “In one case we had a property where the landlord demanded that the tenant pay for repainting several rooms following a one year tenancy. The check in inventory clearly stated that the walls were already well marked and the few additional scuffs and rubs were clearly normal wear and tear, due to the length of the tenancy. The key underlying problem is that landlords and tenants often have different expectations when it comes to fair wear and tear issues. Obviously there is a distinct difference between fair wear and tear and actual damage – for example, carpet tread will flatten over time where there has been foot traffic, but cigarette burns, stains or soiling will require a charge. The best way landlords can ensure that the property’s condition is fully recorded is by having a comprehensive inventory in place at the start of any new tenancy and that a thorough check in and check out report is completed. “