What Is Fair Wear And Tear?

What would be considered fair wear and tear?

There is no definitive description in law but examples of what could be considered fair wear and tear are:

  • Fading and wear of a carpet
  • Furniture marks on carpets
  • Worn furnishings

Essentially any deterioration that is caused by normal, responsible use of the item during a tenancy.

Betterment and Apportionment

Even if some damage is deemed to be caused by the tenant and not due to fair wear and tear, a landlord is not entitled to an improvement (Betterment) of the original item and must apportion costs appropriately.

Example of Apportionment:

If an oven is left unclean and would cost £75 to clean, but the landlord chooses to replace the oven instead and this costs £500, the landlord can only claim £75 from the tenant.

If, however the oven is damaged and needs replacing, then the landlord is within their rights to replace the oven. Even then, though, the landlord cannot request that the tenant bears the full cost due to the wear and tear factor. If, for example the oven cost £500 and had an expected lifespan of 10 years, but, due to damage caused by the tenant, needed replacing after 3 years. In this case the oven would be expected to lose £50 per year in value and after 3 years would have lost £150. So, a landlord can claim for the residual value, which would be £350.

Fair Wear and Tear Summary

A tenant is responsible for looking after the condition of a property and its contents during the tenancy and if they do so, they cannot be penalised at the end of the tenancy for fair wear and tear which is to be expected. Fair wear and tear has to be catered for and a landlord cannot expect a tenant to put the property back to exactly the condition it was in when they moved in, unless the rental agreement specifically has a wear and tear exception clause.