What's Fair in Wear & Tear?

Published: 31/10/2016 By Lucy Murray

A definition of fair wear and tear: 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.

Ok, so that’s the definition but in reality one person’s idea of shabby is another person’s idea of good condition.  As a landlord you don’t want to be out of pocket each time a tenancy finishes but in reality being a landlord can involve some frustrating costs.

To help protect your property and possessions an inventory will be drawn up at the start of the tenancy which the tenants will have to sign and agree.  You will also be sent a copy to ensure you are happy with its contents.  As you probably know, a check out will then be conducted and changes in condition will be noted.

Landlords can claim for Items that are lost or damaged.  However, the law does not allow for ‘betterment’.  If a wooden spoon was noted as in use (let’s assume it’s a little burnt) and it cost the landlord £1 three years ago the landlord would be entitled to charge the tenant about 30p.  The theory is as each year passes an item would through daily use become worn and its commercial value would drop.  In fact, some items you have supplied will eventually become unfit to use and it would be your choice whether you wish to replace the aged item.  It would not be the tenant’s responsibility.

A further example is you’ve had a brand new carpet fitted and 12 months later it has a couple of small spot marks.  You would not be able to charge for a new carpet.  The carpet is still fit for purpose but is now slightly marked.  Should a dispute arise you may be awarded a small amount of compensation to cover the aesthetic loss of the carpet.

It’s not just the original condition that is taken into consideration.  Who lives in your property is a factor.  Families with young children will be expected to cause more wear and tear than a professional couple.  And the location or use of an item may result in heavier wear, with an entrance hall carpet likely to become more worn and flat than a dining room carpet.

As your agent we want to avoid tenancy disputes, and with our experience in lettings and our professional inventory clerks, we are able to offer advice and fair compensation for you.