The contentious issue of ‘fair wear and tear’

Wear and tear is one of the areas that is a major cause of conflict between landlords and tenants. Tenants often complain that they have no idea what fair usage really means and frequently dispute landlords’ claims of damage, countering that the supposed damage is instead acceptable wear and tear.

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It appears that landlords are likely to be on the losing end of these arguments, with some reports stating that tenants are successful in nine out of ten disputes about wear and tear that are independently adjudicated. It must be said that some landlords do attempt to classify standard wear and tear as tenant-caused damage without providing any evidence in the form of a written statement or photographs; indeed, a former chair of the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) has commented that landlords tend to have unrealistic expectations of the definition of wear and tear.

House of Lords fails to define ‘reasonable’

The House of Lords gave a ruling that wear and tear consists of ‘reasonable use of the premises by the tenant’; however, the lordships failed to specify the length of this particular piece of string. What is reasonable use? Needless to say, there are very differing viewpoints between tenants and landlords.

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Letting agents in Gloucester such as do their best to avoid these disputes by recommending to both landlords and tenants that they carry out check-in and check-out inventories. There are also some guidelines that are useful in assessing fair usage.

Guidelines when assessing wear and tear

The whole point of the wear and tear calculation is to decide whether the tenant should have the deposit back in whole or should have all or some part deducted. The National Landlords Association deals with many letters from landlords on this subject.

The time the tenants have been in the property will affect the calculation; similarly, the type of tenants can affect it – you would expect a young family to be somewhat harder on a house than a single person. The areas of the house that are heavily used, such as the kitchen, will be expected to show more wear and tear than areas such as bedrooms.

Carpets can reasonably show signs of wear, but not stains or burns – these are definitely damage.

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