What’s fair when it comes to property Fair Wear and Tear?

July 27, 2016

Deciding what constitutes fair wear and tear in a rental property can become a bone of contention between tenants and landlords, as both may have different ideas of what ‘fair’ wear and tear actually is. There is no legal definition for this which makes it somewhat subjective.

From a landlord’s point of view there are five things that need to be taken into consideration when determining if a property had been damaged or subjected to wear and tear, according to The Association of Residential Letting Agents;

  • The original age, quality and condition of any item at commencement of the tenancy.
  • The average useful lifespan to value ratio (depreciation) of the item
  • The reasonable expected usage of such an item
  • The number and type of occupants in the property
  • The length of the tenants’ occupancy


Pat Barber, Chair of the AIIC (The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks) has said,

There is a distinct difference between fair wear and tear and actual damage – for example carpet tread will flatten over time, where there has been foot traffic, but cigarette burns, stains or soiling will require a charge”.

She goes on to say, “Normal wear and tear is a fact of life with rental properties, just as it would be at home. The best way to landlords and agents can ensure that the property’s condition is fully recorded, is by having a comprehensive inventory in place at the start of any new tenancy, and that a thorough check-in and check-out report is completed.”

Tenants have a duty of care to return the property back to the landlord in the same condition as it was at the start of their tenancy, with allowance for normal wear and tear. At Northwood, our branches always carry out a comprehensive inventory at both check in and check out, including photographs to assist in providing evidence as to the condition of the property at the time. This document will be used at the end of the tenancy to consider any deterioration beyond fair wear and tear.


For examples of how fair wear and tear is calculated, as well as more examples of what is considered ‘fair’ wear and tear, please see our guide for landlords here.



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