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Wear Tear - What is Fair Wear and Tear

Normal wear and tear is damage or deterioration by ordinary and reasonable use of the property.

The word 'reasonable' though must be interpreted differently, depending on the type of property and who occupies it.

Landlords should therefore keep in mind that the tenant’s deposit is not to be used like an insurance policy where they might get full replacement value or new for old. The landlord also has a duty to act reasonably and not claim more than is necessary to make good any loss.

Replacement of a damaged item may be justified where it is very much damaged beyond repair or its condition makes it unusable. Repair or cleaning will be more likely where replacement cannot be justified. In cases where an item has had its value reduced or its lifespan shortened, for example by damage, the compensation may be appropriate.

Wear and tear is the normal loss in value that occurs when something is used.

For example, a landlord should expect to have to repaint walls every few years, especially in the kitchen. Also furniture normally gets worn with age. Over time walls get small nail holes and carpets get worn. But if your rental agreement does prohibit any nail holes, then nail holes would be an item of damage.

The law requires the landlord to pay for ordinary wear and tear.

Normal use of the property by the tenant and guests of the tenant is not something the landlord can claim as damages.

However, the tenant must pay for accidental damages done to the property. If the landlord can prove that the tenant intentionally damaged the property, the tenant may be charged for the cost of repairs.

Wear and tear does not include cleaning made necessary by a tenant's failure to clean when moving out or other failure to keep the rental unit clean. A tenant’s obligation to clean generally includes sweeping and washing floors, shampooing carpets, disposing of all trash and making sure that the kitchen, bathroom and all appliances are properly cleaned. The tenant should always take pictures when moving out to document that the apartment has been cleaned.

In the end, the landlord, when finding replacement items should not be in a better position financially or materially, than it was in the beginning to the end of the tenancy after having allowed for fair wear and tear.

So, if you damage something , firstly tell the landlord and offer to replace it like-for-like. You are not obliged to replace it with a new item and neither can the landlord claim for a new version.


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