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Fair vs. Excessive Wear and Tear

The Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 does not have a specific definition of fair wear and tear, although it is considered to be wear that happens during normal use and changes that happen with ageing.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal definition of fair wear and tear is, in general, concerned with the consequences of ordinary, not extraordinary damage. In the case of wear, this might mean, for example, fading paint on walls caused by sunlight over time. In the case of tear, this might refer to disrepair caused by a tenant through unintentional action or through normal incident of a tenant’s occupation.

Fair wear and tear is the responsibility of the property owner, while careless or excessive damage is the tenant’s. Some examples of fair versus careless damage are: cracked window panes due to old frames versus cracked window panes from careless slamming; paint fading over time versus paint discolouration through candle smoke; plaster cracks as the building settles versus plaster chipped by nails being hammered in; carpet fading due to walking versus holes and stains in the carpet; scuffed varnish on wood versus chips and scraps on wood.

A landlord should also take note of the durability of certain fixtures and items. Manufacturers typically determine how long an item will last. Window shades, screens, and blinds will typically last three years, tiles and linoleum five years, plush carpeting five years, refrigerators and air conditioning units 10 years.

It’s vital for landlords as well as tenants to complete the entry condition report and take before-and-after photos of the unit so both parties have proof should it be needed. Photos should be taken before moving in and after the moving out inspection.