It’s a classic story being told over and over again. The tenant moves out of the property. The landlord/property manager enters the property to complete the vacate inspection, doesn’t like what they see and claims the bond in order to rectify the damage. Tenant gets upset, believing that the damage is due to fair wear and tear.

However, identifying what “fair wear and tear” is is a somewhat tricky thing to do. In fact, the subject is open to numerous interpretations as there is no concrete basis or standard to follow. Disputes and disagreements are, therefore, expected.

In Australian law, tenants are not held responsible to pay for fair wear and tear unless it is stated in their contract. They are only made to do so when the tenant had intentionally caused the damage or had been irresponsible or negligent.

So what is ‘fair wear and tear’?

‘Fair wear and tear’ is the natural deterioration of a property caused by everyday use. Various factors contribute to the property’s deterioration such as time, weather, natural elements, and simply the day-to-day living. Whilst real estate laws vary by state, this is widely recognised as the standard definition of property ‘fair wear and tear’.

To expound further on identifying what is ‘fair wear and tear’ and what is damage, here are some examples:

FAIR WEAR AND TEAR

  • Indentations on the furniture and traffic marks on the carpet
  • Worn paint near the light switch
  • Worn kitchen benchtop
  • Faded curtains
  • Loose door handles/windows/hinges

DAMAGE

  • Torn or missing curtains
  • Cuts or burns on benchtop
  • Badly scratched wooden floors
  • Unapproved paint job
  • Damaged paint due to sticky tape or Blu-Tack
  • Stains or cigarette burns on the carpet
  • Drillings on the walls used to hook pictures or other decorations
  • Broken window panes
  • Proof of fair wear and tear

In order to avoid disputes over this matter, it is important to have a comprehensive entry condition report that is provided to the tenants at the start of the tenancy. Make sure that the report includes detailed photos before and after the tenancy in order to set a basis for comparison.

Ensure that these reports are completed and signed for the benefit of both the landlord and tenant.