Fair Wear & Tear

We know what ‘fair wear and tear’ means in the context of a residential tenancy period. Due to fairly new legal processes involved in letting property, this phrase is becoming more defined. A tenant may not be held responsible at the end of a tenancy agreement for any changes in the property’s condition by what The House of Lords called ‘reasonable use of a premises by a tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces, including the passage of time’. It is common sense and experience gained as an inventory clerk which are the two most important assets for successful decision making on such issues.

Our Check-out Costing Guide

Many factors should be assessed to reach a fair judgement. For example, the following entries are taken into account:

  1. The quality of the supplied item
  2. The condition at check-in
  3. The condition during an interim inspection
  4. The condition at check-out
  5. Other 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, but rather ‘fit for purpose’ or ‘more of the same’ being applied. The tenant has a duty of care to return the property at the end of the tenancy period in the same condition as it was at the start. However, fair wear and tear is excepted and expected! Landlords must provide documentation and information on any items of particular value within the property, for example; antiques, collectables and art work etc. Items of no particular value other than that of sentimental value should be removed before a tenancy commences.


There may be circumstances where excessive wear and tear will require compensation or charges to make good the damages, for example numerous nail or screw holes in walls or doors, torn wallpaper and soiling of blinds and curtains. Landlords should expect acceptable associated deterioration to their property when permitting smokers, families with young children and pets into their properties. Damage caused by smoke, candles, incense, tar and nicotine may not be considered as fair wear and tear, dependant on the clauses set out in the specific tenancy agreement. Any affected surfaces should be thoroughly washed prior to being repainted to ensure staining does not gradually track throughout.

Laminated Flooring

Light and minor surface scratches, nicks and indentations are considered to be caused by fair wear and tear. However drag marks, deep scratches, stains, burns and tears are not.


The following information would be required in order to calculate for compensation:

  1. Age
  2. Quality
  3. Manufacturer’s recommended life expectancy
  4. Condition at check-in
  5. Condition at check-out
  6. Any extenuating circumstances

General Cleaning

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

White Goods / Appliances

The life expectancy of such items is recommended by the manufacturer, however damage caused by misuse is not considered to be fair wear and tear.


It is usual for a landlord to be responsible for the control of trees and shrubs, however larger trees and evergreen shrubs should be determined and defined in the tenancy agreement. Normal weather soiling is considered to be fair wear and tear, including any marks left by pots and planters. Pathways and paving should be swept and any outside furniture cleaned.

Natural Forces

Sunlight shining through windows onto curtains, blinds, carpets and furniture causing fading or discolouration/bleaching is considered to be fair wear and tear. This only applies to furniture however if they remain in the position they were placed by the landlord. If the tenant chooses to move furniture nearer to windows or doors which puts them in direct sunlight, this would not be considered as fair wear and tear. Storm damage to structures along with the weathering of external surfaces is also considered as fair wear and tear.


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