What are apportionment charges and what does betterment mean?
Sometimes it is not necessary to replace whole items when damage has been caused, particularly if the damage is aesthetic and does not impact on its functionality. For example, if a carpet has an iron burn mark, this has affected how the carpet looks but has not had too much impact on its function as a carpet for the immediate future. Apportionment charges are usually taken when items are not needed to be replaced, the money taken is to compensate the landlord for the loss of value and to go towards eventual replacement when needed. Therefore, apportionment charges should be a portion of the cost of replacement which is dependent on the severity of damage, original condition, life expectancy and type of tenant. To charge the whole amount of replacing the item would be betterment for the landlord as they would be receiving something brand new that was not necessarily new in the first place. In the above example, it would be deemed unfair if a landlord changed the whole carpet because of this burn mark, therefore, to avoid betterment, the landlord would take an apportionment charge for the aesthetic damage that has been caused.
Dependent on the damage, there may be some instances where you could also be charged for the most economical cost of any necessary remedial works. For example, if the marks to the carpet were particularly bad in one area and they could not be covered easily with furniture, the landlord would be entitled to charge not only for the aesthetic damage caused to the carpet but they could also include the cost of a rug to cover the marks. This would be deemed a fair charge as the landlord is not enjoying any betterment from this situation – they would be in a similar situation as before.
How are the landlord and tenant contributions worked out for repainting and why have we been charged different amounts for different walls?
If the check-out report states that marks have been caused to walls in the property that are in excess of normal wear and tear, the landlord is entitled to receive some compensation for this damage. Dependent on the extent of the damage, the landlord may decide to instruct a contractor to repaint the wall/s (although this is not necessary in order to make a charge from the deposit for any marks caused).
Our contractors charge £54 to repaint each wall. We instruct contractors to repaint whole walls rather than touch in marks as this often leaves obvious patches of new paint and can look much worse than the original damage. The apportionment of this cost between landlord and tenant is worked out based on the theory that a landlord is expected to repaint their property on average every 4 years. Therefore, over 4 years, the wall would depreciate at £13.50 per year (£54 being the cost of repainting divided by the number of years it could be expected to last).
If the check-out report states that a wall has been marked during your tenancy, it is our job to then look at your original inventory and investigate when that wall was last repainted. We can then work out how much should be apportioned to the tenants and to the landlord. For example, if the inventory states that the wall at the beginning of the tenancy was in a ‘good clean condition,’ or ‘appears freshly painted,’ and that same wall is then marked at the end of the tenancy and in need of repainting, the landlord has only had 1 year’s worth of ‘use’ out of the wall. In this instance, the landlord should pay £13.50 for that year and the tenant would be responsible for the 3 years that the landlord missed out on due to the damage caused, so the tenant would be charged £40.50. In another scenario, the inventory could list the walls as having some marks present at the start of the tenancy and then the check-out report shows that there are additional marks to these at check-out. If we find that this wall was repainted two years prior to the check-out, the cost of the repainting would be split 50/50 between the landlord and tenant.
Consequently, different walls in the same property may have been repainted at different points in time so varying charges could apply for the same damage from one wall to the next. Please note that walls do not necessarily need to be repainted in order to apply the same apportionment of charges.
Why does it cost £54 to repaint a wall, paint does not cost that much?
Unfortunately, employing contractors to carry out repainting is much more expensive than buying a tin of paint and doing it yourselves. Contractors have overheads to cover and need to charge for their labour to do the work on top of the cost of the materials. The walls often need to be treated before repainting especially when blu-tack has been used as the greasy residue needs to be cleaned off properly before paint can be applied, otherwise it will just seep back through the paint again. This process adds to the amount of time our contractors have to spend repainting. We have sourced reliable and reasonably priced contractors to carry out the work and they have kept their prices the same for several years now despite the rise in the price of materials. These prices have also been accepted as reasonable by deposit dispute adjudicators.
Why have I been charged for a wall that already had marks on it?
Please refer to the explanation of how these charges are worked out above. The apportionment of charges between landlord and tenant should reflect the condition of the walls at the start of the tenancy so the fact that they were not freshly painted has been taken into account already in the amount that you have been charged.
Why couldn’t you clean the marks off the wall instead of painting it?
It is very difficult to remove marks through cleaning the walls and doing so can often cause more damage. Although some very minor marks can be removed by wiping the wall gently with a damp cloth, the majority will not clean off. Rubbing the wall too hard in an attempt to remove marks will cause damage to the paintwork which often looks worse than the original mark and will need repainting anyway.
Why doesn’t blu-tac and nails in the walls count as fair wear and tear?
Blu-tac and nails are classed as avoidable damage and so do not class as fair wear and tear. Fair wear and tear is light damage such as scuffs in communal stairwells which accumulate over the period of the tenancy. Fair wear and tear is calculated based on the length of the tenancy and the type of occupant.
We have never used blu tac in the property, why have we been charged for repainting?
The inventory clerk will have examined the property at the point of constructing the original inventory. They will at this point have highlighted any areas that already have blu-tac marks, scuffs, nails, etc. If the clerk has highlighted that a wall that was unmarked on the inventory, now has marks at the end of the tenancy then they will highlight it as new damage that needs to be remedied at the tenants cost.
Why don’t grease marks count as fair wear and tear? Shouldn’t the landlord have provided a headboard?
Grease marks are not classed as fair wear and tear as it is avoidable damage. The landlord is not obliged to provide headboards and it is the responsibility of the tenant to either ensure they are not marking the walls with grease or that they make good any grease marks prior to checkout by repainting the wall.
Am I able to see an invoice with the works carried out as proof?
Of course! If you wish to see an invoice of works then our finance team can provide this. In most instances, an invoice will be available. However if the landlord has decided to only charge an apportionment charge for damage, then works will not have been carried out and therefore no invoice will be available.
I spilled paint on the carpet/burnt the carpet, why am I being charged for this when the landlord hasn’t replaced the whole carpet?
It would be excessive for the landlord to replace a whole carpet due to a small number of burn marks. Therefore, every time a tenant contributed to the damage of a carpet the landlord should only charge an apportionment charge for that specific damage. Once the carpet is so badly damaged through numerous damages, over various tenancies, he will then pay for the replacement himself, having received various contributions over the years.
The lightbulb was working when I moved out but the photo shows it isn’t?
Lightbulbs can stop working at any time. Unfortunately, we do have instances where lightbulbs that were working one day, are not working the next day. The condition of the property is relayed at the official checkout, so any bulbs that are not working at this time will need to be replaced at the tenants cost, provided they were stated as working when the original inventory was constructed.
£6 to change a lightbulb seems a bit pricey, you can buy lightbulbs for less than that?
Like all contractor charges, there is an element of labour involved. Not only to fit the light bulb but to make the trip to buy the bulb needed. To avoid this cost for labour, it is advised that you always replace all non-working bulbs prior to your check-out.
How have the apportionment charges been calculated for things like cigarette burns?
Our finance team have been on various deposit courses run by My Deposits adjudicators so that they can fairly apportion cost depending on the damage caused. This includes cigarette burns, iron burns and marked furniture etc.