What is fair wear and tear?
By law, a landlord cannot charge a tenant for “fair wear and tear”, which is defined as the ‘reasonable use of the premises by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces’. But the real question does not concern the definition of fair wear and tear. We actually need to define what is reasonable – and this is often more complicated than it should be.
The general rule is that the tenant may be charged a pro-rated cost of repair or replacement of an item, if the tenant has:
(a) significantly shortened the life of something that does wear out, or
(b) has damaged something that does not normally wear out.
Remedies available to the landlord
Depending on the situation, the landlord has the option to replace an item, restore an item through repair or cleaning, or claim an amount equal to the value of excessive depreciation. It is expected that, in this, the landlord follows the most practical course of action possible.
Calculating the value of excessive wear and tear
Pro-rating takes into account several factors, including the life expectancy of the item (largely dependent on the number of tenants using the item), its age at the start and end of the tenancy, and the cost of restoration or replacement.
A simple calculation for determining the claim value for excessive wear or damage would be:
Claim = (Cost of repair or replacement ÷ Number of years expected use) x Number of years of use lost due to excessive wear and tear
For example: If a 5 year old carpet with a life expectancy of 10 years is damaged beyond repair, it has effectively lost 5 years (50%) of its use. If the replacement value is £400, then the landlord is entitled to claim: (£400 ÷ 10) x 5 = £200
(Of course, that’s assuming the carpet has not shown excessive wear and tear from previous tenants!)
It’s not always simple
Disputes over fair wear and tear usually boil down to a difference of opinion between landlord and tenant. That’s why it’s a good idea to have the condition of the property professionally and independently assessed – both at the start and at the end of the tenancy.
At Attic Inventory, our professional inventory clerks have the advantage of experience in such matters. Armed with a complete inventory report from the start of the tenancy, a good eye for detail and a great deal of common sense, they are able to easily assess whether a tenant has caused excessive damage / wear to the property during a tenancy.
For a reliable inventory service in Greater London and surrounding areas, contact Attic Inventory.
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