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Understanding Fair Wear and Tear in Tenancies

Our comprehensive guide elucidates the nuances of Fair Wear and Tear in property rental agreements, a term that has evolved through legal interpretations over the years.


The Essence of Fair Wear and Tear

It's universally accepted that tenants shouldn't be penalized for ordinary wear and tear by the end of their tenancy. The House of Lords describes this as the 'reasonable use of the premises by the tenant and the effects of aging'. Practical experience as inventory clerks has taught us that common sense is equally important as formal knowledge when assessing Fair Wear and Tear.


Interpreting the Tenancy Agreement

While tenancy agreements are legally binding, inventory clerks might offer different insights. A single document can't capture the unique characteristics of every property or the unpredictable nature of tenancies. When evaluating Fair Wear and Tear, it's essential to weigh:

  • The initial and final condition of items
  • The quality of the items provided
  • Unanticipated events during the tenancy

Landlord and Tenant Responsibilities

Landlords can't charge for replacements or cleaning if the property was already showing signs of wear at the start of the tenancy. Conversely, tenants should aim to return the property in a similar condition, accounting for normal wear and tear. Landlords should also document valuable items and remove items of sentimental value that don't have monetary worth.


Distinguishing Decorations from Damages

Significant damages that go beyond Fair Wear and Tear might include extensive holes in walls, ripped wallpapers, or deep scratches in woodwork. Landlords should anticipate a certain degree of wear when renting to families with children, smokers, or pet owners. Damage from smoking, especially if prohibited in the Tenancy Agreement, might exceed typical wear and tear.


Wall Coverings: A Closer Look

The placement and type of wall coverings can influence their durability. If uncertain about specialized coverings, always consult professionals for cleaning or restoration advice.


Flooring, Fabrics, and Furnishings

Surface scratches on laminated flooring are considered Fair Wear and Tear, but deeper damages might incur charges. The quality of the laminate, especially in moisture-prone areas like bathrooms, plays a role. For carpets, compensation depends on factors like age, quality, and end-of-tenancy condition. Fabrics, blinds, and upholstery might need professional cleaning, especially if cleaned at the tenancy's start. However, excessive cleaning can degrade high-quality fabrics.


Maintenance Insights: Appliances and Gardens

White goods have a manufacturer-recommended lifespan, but damages from misuse aren't covered under Fair Wear and Tear. For gardens, regular wear includes weather effects, but responsibilities for trees and shrubs should be specified in the tenancy agreement.


Nature's Impact on Property

Some damages, like those caused by sunlight or storms, are unavoidable. Recognizing these natural effects is crucial in distinguishing between tenant responsibilities and Fair Wear and Tear.


Additional Resources

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