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What is “Fair Wear & Tear” - How Can It Be Minimised?

When renting out a property, it’s only natural that at the end of the tenancy, you would want it to be in same condition it was in when the tenancy began.

However, this isn’t always possible due to “fair wear and tear” damages that occur over time through general use. Essentially, this damage is considered unavoidable.

For this reason, tenants can’t be held accountable for any damages that fall under this bracket, so repairs as a result of fair wear and tear is something you’ll have to pay for yourself when maintaining your property.

By the same token, if tenants are not responsible for damages that occur naturally because of fair wear and tear, then they are at least somewhat responsible for damages that have taken place beyond the effects of mere general use.

In these cases, where damages are a result of misuse or a lack of care, the tenant can be held accountable for some or all of the repair costs. Therefore, you will be able to make fairdeductions from the tenancy security deposit in order to fund the required repairs.

Although you might not be able to stop wear and tear taking place entirely, there are steps that you can take to minimise the impact of wear and tear, both fair and unfair:

Personal measures of prevention

It can be very beneficial, not to mention harmonious in a business sense, to maintain a good, professional relationship with your tenant from the start. This will put you in a better position to give good guidance on how to maintain the property and hopefully avoid unnecessary damage.

Conducting mid-term inspections can help you discover any issues as, when and if they arise. This will allow you to alleviate or resolve any issues promptly, which is a better alternative than waiting until the end of the tenancy and finding that initial minor problems have worsened due to the time that’s elapsed.

Inventory preparation

Photographic and video inventories can be used to keep a reliable record of the property’s condition both prior to its occupation and after the tenant has moved out.

You should clearly date this evidence, digitally preferably, and ask for the tenant to sign it so that you can both agree on the property’s actual pre and post tenancy condition.

Photographs and video footage of damage including burns, stains, scratches or rips in furniture can be very useful in verifying and establishing responsibility.

The adjudication process

In the unlikely circumstances that a deposit dispute takes place, our adjudication process is available as an independent service to resolve any relevant issues.  Similarly to the Sheriff’s Court, strength of evidence is pivotal to each case.

An adjudicator is entirely impartial and can never make “assumptions”. Rather, they can only rely on evidence submitted to the scheme in which to make a decision.

Find out more about more about the adjudication process in our deposit disputes article.

Stay in control of your property

Ultimately, it’s essential to be knowledgeable on circumstances surrounding fair wear and tear before a tenancy begins – not only will this help you understand what damage qualifies as a tenant’s responsibility, but it will also allow you to know what to be particularly vigilant for when it comes to protecting, renewing or replacing aspects of your property.

Remember, always stay informed on the conditions of both the interior and exterior aspects of your property as this will help mitigate expenses and save you time

Check out our disputes resources for further information.