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Monday, September 06, 2010

Tips On Tenancy Deposit Disputes 12: Fair Wear and Tear

Tip 12: What is Fair Wear and Tear?
Most landlords realise that it is not appropriate to make a claim on the deposit in order to return their rental property to exactly the same condition it was in at the beginning of the tenancy. The landlords that I speak to are generally very keen to make allowances for fair wear and tear, but exactly what constitutes fair wear and tear in the eyes of an adjudicator can be difficult to pin point.
My understanding is that wear and tear is the kind of damage that can be expected to occur in the course of ordinary usage. To put it another way, it is damage that occurs naturally when an object is used for its proper purpose. Some examples of fair wear and tear might include scuffs on paintwork, or indentations on carpet, as these will come about through general use, rather than misuse.
It follows that landlords need to be a little flexible about allowances for wear and tear. If you rent out your property to a family with four small children and a dog, an adjudicator will expect you to allow for a higher level of wear than had you let the same property to a retired couple. Similarly, if take on a smoker as a tenant, you must expect that the smell will linger somewhat.
Tom Derrett is the Principal of Deposit Claim, an ex-adjudicator and an expert on the Deposit Protection Schemes.

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Sam said...

Yes - the issue as you raise though are when the tenants are told they are not allowed pets and then we find they have pets! We have a case going through at the moment where the tenants were not allowed pets (as there is not enough outside space). They ignored this and got 2 big dogs in which have destroyed the carpets and left hair everywhere!

Tom Derrett said...

Hi Sam,

Thanks for your comment. You have hit the nail on the head. What is fair wear and tear depends on the level of use agreed by the parties.

It would be difficult to claim that pet damage was FWT, where pets were not permitted. Good luck with your claim.

Nel S said...


As a landlord, I did not get a "fair response" from arbitrators.

My tenant cracked by sturdy white-granite-composite kitchen sink, from top to bottom along its verical side.

In my opinion the sink should have lasted atleast another 10 years if I was living there. And atleast another 5-10 years with tenants.

The arbitrators ruled that while the damage was beyond "fair wear and tear", "there was no proof that the tenants had caused it".

The check-in and check-out reports, prepared by the same independent company, show the damage to be caused during the tenants occupancy.

We had also submitted written correspondence, between us and the tenants, where the tenant had been difficult and refused access to repair it.

No new tenant would accept such a sink, and we replaced it, costing us £350 in materials and labour.

I expected to be compensated for half of the costs.

I am aware the arbitrators decision is final. But I feel disappointed and let down. What should I have done differently ?