Landlords are generally well-versed in the ins and outs of property investment, so you'd expect them to know the importance of dotting the Is and crossing the Ts. However, it seems that when it comes to decorating, those in the private rented sector are finding out the hard way that the devil is in the detail. According to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC), landlords in the UK are failing to properly protect themselves from redecoration disputes because they are neglecting to accurately record the condition of their property at the start of a new tenancy.
Vagueness is also proving to be a problem, it has been revealed. Research has shown many landlords aren't being clear with tenants on simple issues such as what constitutes a 'neutral' colour. This is leading to many renters contesting landlord claims at the end of a tenancy.
Should a dispute over redecoration costs occur, an adjudicator will first check inventory to determine the state of the decor when the tenant took up residence. If this is inaccurate, landlords will lose out. An investigation will then follow into how long a tenant has lived in a property. Landlords are expected to decorate every three to five years in line with industry guidance. What's more, if a tenant has lived in a property for five years or more and is not required by contract to carry out redecoration themselves, a claim for costs is likely to be unsuccessful.
In some instances, disputes occur when parties have agreed that redecorating will fall within the tenant's remit but landlords have failed to give clearly defined details as to what this involves. Consequently, property owners could find themselves faced with wacky walls and floor coverings, making the place harder to let in the future.
Pat Barber, chair of the AIIC, explained that in one case a tenant had been given permission to redecorate and painted a Lion King mural on all the walls. As a result, the tenant had to pay for a full redecoration as the room was unlettable as anything but a children's bedroom. To avoid getting into a similar dispute, landlords should make clear at the start of the tenancy their expectations relating to decorating and give clear explanations of terms such as 'neutral' or 'minimal'. Similarly, tenants can avoid disputes by keeping landlords informed of any changes they plan to make.
- Friday 04 October 2013