What is reasonable wear and tear when renting?

Banner: "Tenant damage or normal wear and tear"

Wear and tear are three words that can drive landlords to despair! Is wear and tear a sloppy excuse for lack of care? Where does wear and tear end and when does it become damage? As an established Leicester letting agent we offer some answers and solutions to help tackle this tricky issue.

What is wear and tear?

There are no clear answers here as each situation is different, it’s a matter of common sense. If you offer a furnished property with a white fabric sofa there’s a good chance it won’t be white a year later but if it’s burnt or stained with nail varnish then this could be considered damaged.

Examples of reasonable wear & tear

Sometimes, it’s easier to establish what’s considered fair wear and tear by highlighting a few examples. Here are a few issues you’ll encounter which should be labelled as wear and tear:

  • Fading/furniture indentations to carpets
  • Small scuffs/marks on walls
  • Naturally worn down carpets
  • Loose hinges/handles on doors
  • Faded/cracked paint
  • Frayed fabric
  • Small tears/cracks on furniture
  • Faded curtains
  • Dirty windows
  • Loose/tight tap handles

Wear and tear can depend on a few factors such as:

The number of tenants 
– a four-member family with young children is likely to cause more wear and tear than a single professional.
Quality of the property – scuffs and marks will be more apparent in a new property or newly refurbished property.
Age of furniture – wear and tear will be more evident if furnishings are old e.g. cheap secondhand furniture bought specifically for rental properties.

What’s considered to be damage?

If something is obviously broken or requires intensive cleaning then consider this damage. Also, question whether the issue is from natural use or carelessness.

Examples of damage

Like the above list, here are a few examples of what can be considered damage:

  • Broken locks
  • Broken doors
  • Tears, large stains or burns on the carpet
  • Large scratches on wooden floors
  • Burnt/split kitchen worktops
  • Holes in walls
  • Poorly painted surfaces
  • Torn curtains
  • Broken windows
  • Broken toilet seat

Can wear and tear be prevented?

No, wear and tear can’t be stopped completely but there are ways to keep it to a minimum:

  • Correct décor

There’s no point in creating a showhome with every room designed to perfection. Opt for durable, long-lasting items that will stand the test time of time. Remember that going too cheap (as tempting as it can be) may result in items constantly needing replacing.

  • Set a clean standard

The landlord should set the standard, a clean property will show the tenant how it should be kept and in what state it should be at the end of the tenancy. A shabby property will put off prospective clean tenants and attract the more scruffy, careless tenant.

  • Be a good landlord 

If you keep the tenant happy then they’re likely to treat the property with respect. If the tenant raises repair or maintenance issues then be prompt in addressing them. Using a Leicester letting agent such as Readings, allows us to take on this role for you and take advantage of our extensive maintenance network to fix any issues efficiently and without delay. We use an online reporting tool to ensure any issues are logged and actioned as soon as possible.

  • Look for long-term tenants

Although this isn’t easy it is worthwhile. tenants who are going to make your property their home for an extended period of time are more likely to look after it.

  • Regular inspections

You can’t just turn up unannounced to carry out an inspection, there are some very clear regulations on this area. Inspections should be scheduled well in advance and are a great way to monitor wear and tear before anything becomes a big issue and unexpected. Again, a letting agent can do this on your behalf if you wish.

  • Set your expectations

At the beginning of the tenancy, a landlord has every right to say that the property must remain in a good condition by regular maintenance and cleaning. It shouldn’t put off a good quality tenant!

Inventory checks

Deposit disputes between a landlord and tenant usually stem from issues of wear and tear/damage. With the Readings inventory service, there’ll be photographic evidence and impartial, fully documented check in and check out procedure.