Fair Wear & Tear


Through the legal process it is becoming more defined. A tenant cannot be held responsible at the end of the tenancy for changes in a property’s condition caused by what the House of Lords has called ‘reasonable use of the premises by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces (i.e. a passage of time). It is common sense and experience gained as an inventory clerk which are the two most important assets for successful ‘Fair Wear and Tear’ decision making.


The terms of the tenancy agreement (or other agreements, preferably signed and dated by both parties) may over rule recommendations made herein. It is recognised that Inventory Clerks are at liberty to make alternative recommendations because a document such as this cannot consider all the nuances of every property, its furnishings and events that occur during tenancies.


Many factors should be assessed to reach a fair judgement. For example the following should be taken into consideration.


· The quality of the supplied item (which can vary greatly)

· The condition at check in

· The condition at check out

· Any extenuating circumstances


The Law does not allow for betterment, which means a Landlord cannot expect to have old replaced with new at the tenants expense or charge cleaning costs for that soiled at the start of the tenancy.


The Law does not allow for betterment, which means a Landlord cannot expect to have old replaced with new at the tenants expense or charge cleaning costs for that soiled at the start of the tenancy.


The tenant has a duty of care to return the property at the end of the tenancy in the same condition, Fair Wear and Tear excepted, as that recorded on the Inventory at the start of the Tenancy.


Landlords must provide documentation and information on any items of particular value for example, antiques, collectables, art works etc. Items of no particular value other than being of sentimental value should be removed from the property.





There may be circumstances where excessive wear and tear will require compensation or charges to make good, for example numerous nail or pin holes, torn wallpaper, paint/woodwork gouges, soiling etc

Landlords should expect acceptable associated deterioration to their property when permitting smokers, families with young children and pets.

Damage caused by smoking, tar and nicotine staining/soiling, may not be considered as fair wear and tear, depending upon the clauses in the Tenancy Agreement. All affected surfaces have to be thoroughly washed prior to being repainted to ensure that staining does not gradually reappear through the new paint.


Location is an essential aspect of the lift expectancy of many wall coverings.


Life expectancy of emulsion painted walls


Non Smokers

Permitted Smokers

Family occupancy

3 Years

2 Years

Sole/dual occupancy

5 Years

2-3 Years


Manufacturers and/or professional advice may be required in the event of pattern wear, rubbing and general durability.


Life expectancy of wallpaper and similar coverings


Superior Quality

Standard Quality

Permitted Smokers

Family occupancy

5 Years

3-5 Years

3 Years

Sole/dual occupancy

6-8 Years

5 Years

3 Years


If there is any doubt with regard to the expected life of specialist coverings such as silk panels, linen/silk finished wallpaper etc, it is advisable to recommend that specialist advise be sought with regards to cleaning or making good.



Laminated Flooring


Surface scratches, nicks and minor indendations are considered to be consistent with fair wear and tear. Drag marks, deep scratches or scrapes, burn marks and stains are considerable to be chargeable as damage.

There are many qualities of laminated flooring, many of which are not suitable for areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. If water penetrates the joints, the laminate surface has a tendency to raise up or blister therefore the tenant cannot be held responsible





The following information is required when calculating compensation for stained or damaged carpets.

·         Age

·         Quality

·         Manufacturer’s recommended life expectancy for that carpet

·         Traffic/wear at time of check in

·         Expected traffic during the tenancy

·         Condition at check out


Any extenuating circumstances




Fabrics, Blinds and Upholstery


Tenancy Agreement sometimes require fabrics, (for example, curtains, blinds and upholstery etc) to be professionally cleaned for the start of the tenancy (particularly corporate lettings). It is usual practice to expect the cleaning of fabrics after a 12 month or longer tenancy if professional cleaning was carried out at the commencement of the tenancy. However, we recommend that professional cleaning of curtains be carried out at the owners discretion as regardless of quality, most fabrics age prematurely with too frequent professional cleaning.





Soiling or staining to any degree is not considered to be fair wear and tear



White Goods/Appliances


The life expectancy is of that recommended by the manufacturers; however, damage caused by misuse is not considered to be consistent with fair wear and tear.





It is usual for a Landlord to be responsible for the control of tree. Who is responsible for large evergreen shrubs and hedging should be indicated in the tenancy agreement. Normal weather soiling is considered to be consistent with fair wear and tear including marks left by planters on paving. Paths and paving should be swept and the furniture cleaned



Damage by Natural Forces


Sunlight shining through windows onto curtains and carpets causing fading

Discolouration and rot of polyester net curtain 

Storm damage to structures

Weathering of external surfaces



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Dock Inventories Ltd
Registered in England and Wales, Company No. 10689848
Reg. Address - The Court Building, 1 Market Street, London, SE18 6FU VAT Registration Number - 309 7135 03