What is fair wear and tear?

Landlords spend months making sure their property is fit for rental, they invest a lot of money in making sure they can get the highest rent possible, and they expect to be rewarded for their efforts.

What some people don’t predict or budget for is wear and tear. It can be expensive and hard to judge, some things need replacing before others and when they do, no one really knows whose responsibility it is to replace it.

So how do you decipher what is and what isn’t reasonable wear and tear?

Law states that fair wear and tear is damage or deterioration that occurs through normal use or is the normal change that takes place due to the ageing of the property. If the only damage or deterioration is through normal everyday use, you cannot reasonably charge a tenant for the cost of refurbishing the property or an item within the property.

For example, if the carpet in the living room is a cheap and low quality carpet, which was new at the start of the tenancy, but 18 months later, at the end of the tenancy, there are visible wear marks along the most-used sections of the carpet, you could not consider this to be the tenants fault because such wear is expected from a cheap carpet.

LettingCheck have a wear and tear guide that is used when conducting an inventory using our app.

LettingChecks Fair Wear and Tear Guide

1) Brand new, unused condition, – possibly still in wrapper or with new tags/labels attached.
2) Good Condition – signs of slight wear, generally lightly worn rather than marked/scuffed.
3) Fair Condition – signs of age, frayed, small light stains and marks, discolouration.
4) Poor Condition – Extensive signs of wear & tear, extensive stains/marks/tears/chips. Still functional.
5) Very Poor Condition – Extensively damaged/faulty items, large stains, upholstery torn and/or dirty, pet odours/hairs.

Your tenant actually has a duty of care to leave the property at the end of a tenancy in the same condition recorded at the start. But, no landlord can expect to have old fixtures and fittings replaced with new at a tenants expense.

For example, the carpet in the living room is a cheap and low quality carpet, which was new at the start of the tenancy, but 18 months later, at the tenancy end, there are visible wear marks along the most-used sections of the carpet, you could not consider this to be the tenants fault because such wear is expected from a cheap carpet.

Good examples of fair wear and tear include:

  • Cracked windowpanes due to old warped frames
  • Woodwork paint that becomes scratched and chipped
  • Wall and ceiling paint that fades or discolours over time
  • Plaster or brickwork cracks that appear as the building settles
  • Cracked floor or wall tiles resulting from structural movement
  • Carpets worn from day-to-day use
  • Kitchen counters marked or scratched by kitchen implements
  • Walls accidentally marked by random contact or sunlight
  • Wear to white goods that is the result of normal usage, rather than the tenants misuse

If damage is caused by fair wear and tear, a landlord cannot reasonably charge this to the tenant. Of course, fair wear and tear does not include intentional or careless damage caused by the tenant or their guests at any time during their tenancy.

Examples of damage that may not be covered by fair wear and tear include:

  • Door or window glass or frame cracked from being carelessly slammed
  • Paint discolouring through regular candle or cigarette smoke
  • Linings or trim damaged by hammer, screwdriver or rough use
  • Minor damage that worsened over time because it was not reported for repair

As long as you have a well-prepared inventory report, the job of assessing whether damage noted at the end of the tenancy is fair wear and tear or tenant damage will be made much simpler.

This blog first appeared on LettingCheck.com

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