As a tenant, how can I reduce my dilapidations liability?
There are a number of ways of reducing the amount of money you have to pay to the landlord on termination of the lease. It can start before you have even taken on the lease. Unless the property is new there will be parts of it that are already in disrepair. You should look to have this disrepair recorded in a schedule of condition and write into the lease that you are not required to repair that element. Commonly this is included in the lease as an obligation not to return the premises in any worse condition but this does not necessarily fully protect you. As a tenant you still need to ensure that it does not get any worse during the term of the tenancy.
Maintain the property throughout the lease by undertaking regular maintenance; this will prevent more significant costs at the end.
If possible, negotiate with the landlord for a reduced scope of your demise. Does your demise include external windows and doors and can these be made the responsibility of the landlord? If the carpet is already worn, can you write in that you will not have to replace the carpets on termination?
Do not attach signage to metal cladding or other sensitive surface as the damage caused by the screw holes will be expensive to repair at a later date. When attaching anything to the building, think about how the building will be returned to its original condition when those fixings have been removed.
Undertake the dilapidations work before the end of the lease. If work can be done whilst you are still in occupation then you will not have to pay the additional loss of rent if the landlord has to undertake the work after the lease end. By undertaking the work yourself will also give you more control over costs, you do however carry the risk that if the work is not undertaken to a satisfactory standard the landlord may claim for it to be done.