What is considered “fair wear and tear” in a rental property?
Fair Wear and Tear
The topic of “fair wear and tear” in rental properties can often be confusing for both landlords and tenants. In general, when a tenancy comes to an end, the tenant is responsible for returning the property and its belongings in a condition as close as possible to how they were at the beginning of the tenancy – with the exception of “fair wear and tear”.
According to Consumer Affairs Victoria, fair wear and tear refers to the expected deterioration that naturally occurs over time in a property.
In Australia, tenants are not obligated to pay for fair wear and tear. They are only liable for repairs if they have been negligent, irresponsible, or intentionally caused damage.
The term “fair” is linked to the cause of the damage. For damage to be considered fair, it must have occurred during the reasonable use of the property.
To ensure clarity and avoid disputes, it is in the best interest of all parties involved (tenants, landlords, and property management agencies) to complete comprehensive Entry Condition Reports before the tenancy begins. These reports provide a detailed account of the property’s condition, often including photographs or videos of specific items mentioned in the report.
Tenants also have the opportunity to add their own comments to the Condition Report, which must be signed and returned to the property management agency within five business days of the lease commencement.
By taking care, being considerate, and maintaining proper documentation, it is possible to prevent the transition from fair wear and tear to actual damage and the potential for bond disputes.
Condition Reports play a crucial role in avoiding and resolving disputes related to fair wear and tear at the end of a tenancy.
Understanding the concept of fair wear and tear involves recognising it as the ordinary deterioration resulting from everyday use of the property. For example, it is reasonable to expect carpet in high-traffic areas to show more wear than carpet in less frequently used areas of the house. Although tenancy laws vary across states, the real estate industry generally accepts this definition of fair wear and tear.
Here are some examples of what would be considered fair wear and tear:
- Reasonable carpet deterioration in high-traffic areas.
- Faded curtains or frayed cords due to natural causes.
- Minor scuff marks.
- Sun fading and small stains.
- Scuffed wooden floors.
- Faded, chipped, or cracked paint.
- Worn kitchen benchtop.
- Loose door handles or hinges from normal use.
- Cracks in walls caused by movement.
- Watermarks on flooring resulting from a roof leak or plumbing issues.
- Worn paint near light switches.
On the other hand, the following examples would be considered damage rather than fair wear and tear:
- Missing or torn curtains or blinds caused by the tenant or their pets.
- Stains or burn marks on the carpet.
- Extensively broken tiles or severely torn carpet.
- Badly scratched or gouged wooden floors.
- Unapproved or low-quality paint job or wallpaper.
- Burns or cuts in benchtops.
- Broken window panes.
- Holes in walls.
- Water stains on carpet or flooring caused by indoor pot plants or overflowing baths.
- Paint damage from removing sticky tape, Blu-Tack, nails, or wall fixtures.
Our Property Management team conduct regular property inspections throughout the year to ensure that rental properties are maintained to a satisfactory standard and that any issues, can be addressed.
Although we do what we can to ensure a property is maintained throughout the tenancy, a tip for landlords is to have appropriate Landlords’ Insurance coverage, providing peace of mind and protection against potential major or malicious damage that goes beyond the scope of fair wear and tear.
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