Landlords, what counts as fair wear and tear?

A clear understanding of what landlords identify as fair wear and tear is essential for the smooth running of every tenancy.

Tenants and landlords can save on cost and time by being able to identify this. While confusion over the matter can cause disagreements to arise.

We are advocates of inventories and these are proven to be especially important when distinguishing between damage and wear and tear.

What is the difference between wear and tear and damage?

Fair wear and tear refers to items or areas of the home that are deteriorating. This can happen as a result of regular use or the quality fading over time. 

Landlords should understand that items and parts of the home are prone to decrease in quality as time goes by, yet putting the right processes in place can help distinguish between damage and fair wear and tear.

Tenants renting furnished properties are more likely to have more items to account for compared to those renting an unfurnished home. Nonetheless, all types of rental properties are subject to damage and wear and tear, therefore, the same amount of precautionary measures should be taken regardless. Landlords should also take into account that if the tenant provides their own furniture, there may be some wear caused by normal usage of the furniture or reasonable marks from moving items in and out of a property.

Examples of what counts as fair wear and tear include – but are not limited to – minor scuffs, reasonable wear to worn carpets and loose fixtures caused by normal use of the items.

On the other hand, examples of what counts as damage could be drawings all over the walls, a heavily stained carpet that requires replacing, and broken items (depending on their original condition and life expectancy).

With these examples, we can see there is a clear difference between the condition of a home that naturally degrades and abnormal damage.

Reasonably lived in homes and used items result in fair wear and tear. These are inevitable and should an item deteriorate or break as a result they therefore require the landlord to fix them at no fault of the tenant. Meanwhile, unreasonable damage gives landlords the authority to claim from the deposit.

How can all parties remain protected?

We recognise that when letting a home anything is possible, but inventories can help protect all parties throughout the tenancy. 

Currently, inventories are not yet a legal requirement. However, we are adamant that landlords who keep a safe detailed record of the condition of the tenanted properties at the start and end of a let through high-quality inventory reports are the least at risk. 


Every year thousands of pounds get wasted in the lettings industry. It is in the landlord’s interest to have an inventory completed as this also increases the chance of them receiving the right amount of money from the deposit if issues arise. 

If any damage beyond fair wear and tear does occur, this can easily be identified with the use of inventories as they provide the adjudicators with concrete evidence that supports claims and safeguards all parties.

The tenant is also protected by the inventory report and they should not be charged for something that is reasonable wear and tear.

Hiring independent inventory clerks for check-ins and check-outs will ensure the inventories are meticulously detailed. In the lettings industry the more detailed the inventory report, the better the outcome.

When the property is returned there is no guarantee that it will be in the same order as when it was let, but landlords must make what does and does not count as fair wear and tear far simpler to identify by making inventories a compulsory part of the letting process.

Published on 14/04/2022