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1

April

2015

What is fair wear and tear?

Unfortunately, fair wear and tear is not defined in the Act and becomes open for interpretation by many tenants as well as owners/property managers when a tenant is vacating a rental property. 

The legislation only states that a tenant must leave the property and inclusions, as far as possible in the same condition they were at the start of the tenancy, fair wear and tear excepted.

As a result, many courts have grappled with this issue over the years and a myriad of case law has resulted. Still no defined definition of what is constituted by the statement has materialized, unless one goes and investigates each individual case. It might be reasonable to say then, that what might relate to one property, will not apply to another and it will depend on the individual circumstances of each property.  

However, as a general rule there is a rudimentary explanation of the difference between damage and fair wear and tear that most people except. Our experienced property managers mostly make this determination once an exit condition report has been completed and comparing it with the detailed entry condition report. In some cases, photos would have been taken as evidence of the condition of items and property before a tenant takes possession of a property.

However, as a general rule there is a rudimentary explanation of the difference between damage and fair wear and tear that most people except. Our experienced property managers mostly make this determination once an exit condition report has been completed and comparing it with the detailed entry condition report. In some cases, photos would have been taken as evidence of the condition of items and property before a tenant takes possession of a property.


The whole concept revolves around the word 'fair' as it relates to any damage or deterioration caused throughout the tenancy. For any damage to be classed as reasonable, it must have occurred in the course of FAIR use of the property. Although once again we enter a legislative mine field, our portfolio of properties are only rented for private residential use. As a result, our property managers can make a reasonable and informed judgment with many years of experience of what FAIR is.

As an example, high traffic areas on carpeted floor will show wear and tear over time, whilst some minor staining might also be acceptable depending on the length of the tenancy. What will not be classed as fair are major stains or tears in a carpet. This philosophy applies throughout the property.

Our property managers are diligent during their routine inspections as well, looking for any "wear and tear" that cannot be constituted as fair. The tenant will obviously be informed at this stage and a notice to remedy breach will be sent to rectify the damage.

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