For both landlords and tenants, it can be difficult to know where the line lies between fair wear and tear and tenant-related damage. It can be frustrating for tenants, as this can be the difference between getting the deposit back in full or not, and tough for landlords because items that have been damaged may need replacing before new tenants move in, so let’s take a look at what’s what, and how ‘fair wear and tear’ is defined.

What is fair wear and tear?

The House of Lords defined fair wear and tear as ‘reasonable use of the premises by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces’ where natural forces are time and normal daily use.

To put this into simple terms, we’ve gone through each room to give examples of where wear and tear can occur. Here’s what fair wear and tear could look like, throughout an average home.

Kitchen/ Dining Room

As the kitchen is the heart of the home for many, the time spent here may cause things to wear. For example: work surfaces may become scratched or scuffed through normal use of the room, and if there is a hard floor, there could be some scuff and scratches to that too!

Things like a dishwasher, if maintained properly could last up to ** years old.

Bathroom

In the bathroom fair wear and tear could be considered things like yellowing grout, or speckled mould on the ceiling.

Broken mirrors or broken toilet seats may be considered as tenant damage rather than wear and tear.

Bedrooms

In the bedrooms small scuffs to the walls and skirting boards are almost impossible to avoid, as are worn carpets (from use over time), or faded curtains.

Stains from drink, food or pet urine would be classed as tenant damage.

Living Room

As with the rest of the house, scuffs and small marks on walls and skirting are almost impossible to avoid over a prolonged period of time. Worn carpet and faded curtains are also examples of wear and tear.

Pet damage to furniture or carpet or burn marks from candles are some examples of what might be considered tenant damage.

Utility Room

In the utility room, there is likely to be a work surface or floor that will be scuffed, and there could be machines that may go wrong etc. The average lifespan of an appliance is approximately 6 years, potentially longer with regular maintenance.

How do you work out what is wear and tear and what is damage?

To work out what is fair wear and tear you have to consider a few points first. To help you do this we have put together a table

Fair wear and tear table

Related: Right to rent changes >>

For self-managing landlords, it’s a really great idea to do a walk around with your tenant before they move in, taking an inventory of what items are there and in what state they are. Taking pictures is also an excellent way of providing evidence. Then on the tenant’s exit, walk around with them taking note of any wear and tear or damage. Talking to them about any damages on the way round will normally lead to less hassle down the line with disputes.

If a tenant has damaged a property due to negligence, as long as you can show documented evidence (dated photos of before and after) and can prove the damage was caused by tenant negligence you should be able to claim back the funds from the deposit.

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