How many miles are on the clock?

| 27 July 2016

Find out about a case where the landlord's claim didn't allow for the fact that items have a lifespan, and a value that reduces over time. Director of Dispute Resolution Mike Morgan also gives his top tip.

Image of Mike MorganIn a case I once dealt with at TDS, a landlord was adamant that ‘betterment’ be repealed: if he wanted a brand new replacement carpet at a tenant’s expense that was what he was entitled to!

A long discussion ensued… Our landlord remained unconvinced that replacement costs need to allow for an item’s age, cost, and quality when new.  I suggested we think about it another way: if the tenant had paid to use the landlord’s car and written it off, would he expect them to buy him new car? “Of course not” our landlord said “my car has 70,000 miles on the clock”.  And that was when the penny dropped.  Items have a lifespan, and a value that reduces over time. When we compensate to replace them, we are compensating for that ‘unexpired life’ which has been lost. Those factors vary for different products, but we’ll generally apportion the value of a product evenly over its expected lifespan.

A top tip? If it goes into the property (in our example, a carpet) keep a record of when this happened and what was spent.  An invoice showing the cost of a carpet and its fitting, with the property address and a date, can make all the difference to an adjudicator assessing how much to award for that replacement carpet.  If the carpet came with a manufacturer’s guarantee, details of this can be helpful too.  A lot more useful that a check in report seen last week which referred simply to a “beige living room carpet”, with no indication age cost or quality.