Fair Wear & Tear

A definition of fair wear and tear

A tenant is legally entitled to use the property to live in and during the course of the tenancy there will be an allowance for “fair wear and tear”. This covers things like the odd small scuffs on walls or slight wear to carpets in heavy traffic areas. The law also takes into account how many tenants have been living in the property. So if 4 or 5 students share a property it is to be expected that communal areas like hallways, will have extra scuffs and marks, than a property with only one person. However storing bikes in the hallway and scuffing the walls this way is classed as damage, not fair wear and tear, and heavy wear in the individual’s bedroom would not be classed as fair wear and tear. There are many things you have to think about when assessing damages and wear at the end of the tenancy.

This is where you really need an experienced clerk, because there are many factors you have to take into consideration, and an inexperienced clerk or property manager may allocate damages incorrectly.

Fair Wear and tear does NOT cover damage or misuse. The law defines fair wear and tear as “reasonable use of the premises by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces.” This refers to the twin forces of time and normal daily habits. Walking across a carpet from door to dining table, for example, will exert some light wearing effect during the length of a year which is perfectly natural. A landlord cannot ask the tenant to pay for repairs or replacement at the end of the tenancy for changes caused by such fair wear and tear. However if the same area is black with dirt or has been stained or burnt, then this is of course classed as damage.

What is covered by fair wear and tear?

Minor wear to walls.

Minor wear to carpets.

Slight mildew in unventilated bathrooms or kitchen that do not have a window or extractor fan – Please see below for more information on mound and mildew.

More wear or damage to a piece of furniture if it was already noted as faulty at the start of the tenancy. So if a coffee table breaks but was noted as unstable or with noticble damage at the start of the tenancy then this would be wear and tear.

What is classed as damage?

Heavy excessive scuffs, marks, cellotape or bluetac to walls.

Stains and marks to carpets.

Broken furniture.

Mould and mildew caused by tenants misuse or none ventilation of the property for example using the radiators to dry clothes on with no ventilation, not using the extractor vent provided, turning off the extractor vent provided, keeping windows shut especially properties with double glazing and allowing moisture to form excessively.

Hanging up pictures, paint touch ups to walls, adding shelves to walls, unless permission has been given.

Heavily stained mattresses on beds.

Leaving the property uncleaned at the end of the tenancy.

Damage caused to bathrooms and kitchens caused by not cleaning the property, such as staining of grout or heavy build up of mould.

Overgrown gardens if maintained at start of the tenancy.

Blocked drains.

Having a pet such as a cat or dog. Even if permission was granted any damages caused by the pet are not classed as wear and tear.

A tenant has a duty of care to leave the property at the end of a tenancy in the same condition recorded on the inventory, with fair wear and tear taken into account.

Some of the most common methods available to landlords for dealing with damage or decrease in value are:

  • Replacement of an item damaged beyond use or economic repair
  • Repair
  • Cleaning
  • Compensation when the value of an item had decreased more rapidly than would be normal

It’s important to note that the landlord or agent has a duty to adopt the most reasonable and practical remedy.