Guest Blog by TDS – The Importance of considering Fair Wear and Tear

As part of PainSmith’s ongoing partnership with Tenancy Deposit Scheme ‘TDS’ (details for the June webinar will be posted imminently), there will be guest blogs posted on our respective websites. The first of which has been provided by TDS below and relates to fair wear and tear. It is our hope that this will give everyone reading the blog useful information irrespective of whether you happen to use TDS or not:

Fair wear and tear is the natural deterioration of an item or area due to its age and everyday normal usage.  Items within a rental property and the décor within the property, have an average useful lifespan meaning that their value deteriorates over time and this is an important concept for agents and landlords to consider at the end of the tenancy when proposing deposit deductions.

The check-out inspection should look to identify any changes in the condition of the property from the start of the tenancy and the end of the tenancy.  However, deterioration does not necessarily mean that the tenant has breached a contractual obligation and damaged, or misused, an item or area of the property.  It could be the case that an item has deteriorated over time through normal usage and that no deduction from the deposit is justified. 

Once an agent or landlord is in receipt of the check-in and check-out reports, it is important to review the documents thoroughly noting any deterioration. It’s important that fair wear and tear is considered in order to establish whether the deterioration is damage, or due to natural use.

There are a number of factors which influence the scope of fair wear and tear which a landlord may expect within a rental property.  Such factors include:

    • the number and relationships of the occupants
    • the length of the tenancy
    • the condition of the item or area at the start of the tenancy
    • the quality of the item
    • the average useful lifespan of the item

Let’s consider a case in which the carpet was in a ‘fair condition’ at the start of the tenancy and is ‘fraying’ and ‘shaded due to use’ at the end of a five-year tenancy.  If we were to disregard fair wear and tear, we may attempt to make a deduction from the tenant’s deposit for the shading and fraying of the carpet.  However, in actual fact the carpet was not new at the start of the tenancy and the tenancy ran for a period of five years meaning the carpet is likely six or seven years old.  The shading is shown to be due to use and the fraying may have occurred due to natural usage. 

Considering fair wear and tear and the factors set out above is necessary in order to reach a fast and fair resolution with the tenant.  Failure to consider fair wear and tear would likely lead to deductions being proposed from the deposit which are unreasonable and unjustified which could prolong the end of the tenancy process and lead to a tenancy deposit dispute in which the adjudicator makes no award.