What is fair wear and tear?

Fri 12 Jun 2015

Although it is accepted that all tenants must return the property to the landlord 'in the same condition as it was at the start of the tenancy', there is an equally important caveat 'subject to fair wear and tear'.The phrase fair wear and tear is one of the most used phrases in any Letting Agency. It is also one of the most difficult to explain. It is discussed at some point in virtually every tenancy, especially around the time of the tenant leaving when the deposit is being released.

Despite its importance there is no legal definition of what fair wear and tear is. This is because it would be impossible to take into account all the various factors that need to be considered. There have been of course a number of legal cases which have given guidelines and also good practice guides written by the property industry.  These various sources have established a number of principles which can be used by landlords and tenants to assess what is fair wear and tear:

The tenant cannot be held responsible for damage caused by reasonable use of the premises and the ordinary operation of natural forces. There will inevitably be evidence of the tenant living in the property.

The most important factor to consider is commonsense. A few marks on the wall does not require the whole room to be repainted.

Lack of cleaning of the property is not a wear and tear issue. If something is dirty then it should be cleaned.

If the tenant has altered the property without the landlord's permission, the landlord is entitled to the cost of putting the property back to its original state.

The law does not allow for betterment or 'new for old' when considering a repair or replacement. If an item is damaged after 5 years use, the landlord would be entitled to compensation rather than a new item.

It is vital that a comprehensive inventory together with colour photos is produced for every tenancy. This can then be referred to at the end of the tenancy. In the event of a dispute with the deposit the Government Scheme holding the deposit will require evidence to support any claim for compensation. Recent figures from the Tenancy Deposit Scheme reveal that cleaning related disputes make up 56% of all disputes, damage to property 43%, redecoration 30%, rent arrears 17%.

CB Lettings provide a comprehensive inventory with both our Tenant Introduction and Fully Managed Services. We are also registered with the Deposit Protection Service for the protection of all deposits.

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