Fair Wear & Tear

Through the legal process it is becoming more defined. A tenant cannot be held responsible at the end of the tenancy for changes in a property’s condition caused by what the House of Lords has called ‘reasonable use of the premises by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces (i.e. a passage of time). It is common sense and experience gained as an inventory clerk which are the two most important assets for successful ‘Fair Wear and Tear’ decision making.

The terms of the tenancy agreement (or other agreements, preferably signed and dated by both parties) may over rule recommendations made herein. It is recognised that Inventory Clerks are at liberty to make alternative recommendations because a document such as this cannot consider all the nuances of every property, its furnishings and events that occur during tenancies.

Many factors should be assessed to reach a fair judgement. For example the following should be taken into consideration.

· The quality of the supplied item (which can vary greatly)

· The condition at check in

· The condition at check out

· Any 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 or charge cleaning costs for that soiled at the start of the tenancy.

The Law does not allow for betterment, which means a Landlord cannot expect to have old replaced with new at the tenants expense or charge cleaning costs for that soiled at the start of the tenancy.

The tenant has a duty of care to return the property at the end of the tenancy in the same condition, Fair Wear and Tear excepted, as that recorded on the Inventory at the start of the Tenancy.

Landlords must provide documentation and information on any items of particular value for example, antiques, collectables, art works etc. Items of no particular value other than being of sentimental value should be removed from the property.


There may be circumstances where excessive wear and tear will require compensation or charges to make good, for example numerous nail or pin holes, torn wallpaper, paint/woodwork gouges, soiling etc

Landlords should expect acceptable associated deterioration to their property when permitting smokers, families with young children and pets.

Damage caused by smoking, tar and nicotine staining/soiling, may not be considered as fair wear and tear, depending upon the clauses in the Tenancy Agreement. All affected surfaces have to be thoroughly washed prior to being repainted to ensure that staining does not gradually reappear through the new paint.

Location is an essential aspect of the lift expectancy of many wall coverings.

Life expectancy of emulsion painted walls

Non Smokers

Permitted Smokers

Family occupancy

3 Years

2 Years

Sole/dual occupancy

5 Years

2-3 Years

             Manufacturers and/or professional advice may be required in the event of pattern wear, rubbing and general durability.

Life expectancy of wallpaper and similar coverings

Superior Quality

Standard Quality

Permitted Smokers

Family occupancy

5 Years

3-5 Years

3 Years

Sole/dual occupancy

6-8 Years

5 Years

3 Years

If there is any doubt with regard to the expected life of specialist coverings such as silk panels, linen/silk finished wallpaper etc, it is advisable to recommend that specialist advise be sought with regards to cleaning or making good.

Laminated Flooring

Surface scratches, nicks and minor indendations are considered to be consistent with fair wear and tear. Drag marks, deep scratches or scrapes, burn marks and stains are considerable to be chargeable as damage.

There are many qualities of laminated flooring, many of which are not suitable for areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. If water penetrates the joints, the laminate surface has a tendency to raise up or blister therefore the tenant cannot be held responsible


The following information is required when calculating compensation for stained or damaged carpets.

·         Age

·         Quality

·         Manufacturer’s recommended life expectancy for that carpet

·         Traffic/wear at time of check in

·         Expected traffic during the tenancy

·         Condition at check out

        Any extenuating circumstances

Fabrics, Blinds and Upholstery

Tenancy Agreement sometimes require fabrics, (for example,

curtains, blinds and upholstery etc) to be professionally cleaned for

the start of the tenancy (particularly corporate lettings). It is usual

practice to expect the cleaning of fabrics after a 12 month or longer

tenancy if professional cleaning was carried out at the

commencement of the tenancy. However, we recommend that

professional cleaning of curtains be carried out at the owners

discretion as regardless of quality, most fabrics age prematurely

with too frequent professional cleaning.


Soiling or staining to any degree is not considered to be

fair wear and tear

White Goods/Appliances

The life expectancy is of that recommended by the

manufacturers; however, damage caused by misuse is

not considered to be consistent with fair wear and tear.


It is usual for a Landlord to be responsible for the control of tree.

Who is responsible for large evergreen shrubs and hedging should

be indicated in the tenancy agreement .

Normal weather soiling is considered to be consistent with fair wear

and tear including marks left by planters on paving

Paths and paving should be swept and the furniture cleaned

Damage by Natural Forces

Sunlight shining through windows onto curtains and carpets causing


Discolouration and rot of polyester net curtain 

Storm damage to structures

Weathering of external surfaces