Fair wear and tear in rental properties

5 min read
Published on
November 10, 2023
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When you rent out a property, whether it's a residential apartment or a commercial space, it's essential to understand the concept of fair wear and tear. BIG Warranties is here to provide you with valuable insights into what fair wear and tear means in the context of a rented property. 

What is fair wear and tear?

Fair wear and tear refers to the natural and expected deterioration that occurs to a property as a result of normal, everyday use. It is distinct from damage caused by neglect, abuse, accidents, or intentional acts. Understanding the difference between wear and tear and damage is crucial for both landlords and tenants, as it has significant implications for the security deposit and insurance claims. 

Examples of fair wear and tear

Carpet and flooring: Over time, carpets may show signs of wear in high-traffic areas, such as slight discoloration or thinning of the fibres. Similarly, hardwood floors may develop minor scratches or scuffs due to regular foot traffic.

Walls and paint: Faded or slightly scuffed paint, as well as small nail holes from hanging pictures, are generally considered fair wear and tear. However, large holes or excessive marks may be categorised as damage.

Appliances: Household appliances like refrigerators, ovens, and dishwashers will naturally wear out and may require maintenance or replacement over time.

Plumbing and fixtures: Dripping taps, minor plumbing leaks, and worn-out washing machines are typical examples of fair wear and tear in a rented property.

Furniture: If the property is furnished, the furniture may show signs of ageing, such as minor scratches or upholstery wear.

Landscaping: The gradual growth and changes in the garden due to weather and natural processes are typically considered fair wear and tear.

Factors influencing fair wear and tear

Several factors influence what is considered fair wear and tear in a rented property:

Duration of occupancy: The longer a tenant stays in a property, the more wear and tear can be expected.

Frequency of use: High-traffic areas, such as hallways and living rooms, are more likely to exhibit wear and tear than less-used spaces.

Age of the property: Older properties may have pre-existing wear and tear that is not the tenant's responsibility.

Maintenance and repairs: Regular maintenance and prompt repairs by the landlord can help mitigate the effects of wear and tear.

Why understanding fair wear and tear matters

For landlords:

Determining fair wear and tear helps landlords assess the condition of their property when a tenant moves out.

It guides landlords in making fair deductions from the tenant's security deposit for any excessive damage beyond ordinary wear and tear.

Understanding fair wear and tear is essential when making insurance claims for property damage.

For tenants:

Tenants should document the property's condition at the beginning and end of their lease to protect themselves from unjust security deposit deductions. We recommend advising that tenants take pictures of any existing damage or fair wear and tear when they first move into your rented property, so that they have documented evidence of the conditions of the property to provide you before they move out.

Knowing what constitutes fair wear and tear can help tenants take better care of the property during their stay.

What type of damage can landlords charge for?

Whilst you cannot charge tenants for the detailed fair wear and tear, you can charge for the following:

Physical damage: Physical damage beyond fair wear and tear includes things like holes in the walls, water damage caused by overflowing sinks or baths, broken/smashed windows caused by accidental damage by tenants, and blocked drains due to flushing unsuitable materials.

Cleaning costs: You can charge tenants for cleaning costs if the property is left excessively dirty or if cleaning is required beyond what is considered reasonable wear and tear. This may include cleaning stained carpets and walls or removing cigarette burns on surfaces and upholstery.

Pet damage: If tenants have pets, they are responsible for any damage caused by the pet, including scratched floors or torn carpets.

How landlords can protect themselves

At BIG Warranties whilst we can't protect your rental property against fair wear and tear, we can protect you from more costly issues that may arise with a number of our insurance policies. From appliance breakdowns, such as leaky dishwashers or faulty ovens, to home emergencies such as boiler breakdowns or plumbing issues, we've got you covered with affordable landlord insurance.

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