I know that this is a contentious issue for both tenants and landlords. It is estimated that 90% of independently adjudicated cases are awarded to the tenants and it is often the case that a landlord has unrealistic expectations of what constitutes fair wear and tear.
There are four main factors that affect wear and tear:
1. The length of the tenancy. Landlords should expect more wear and tear from long term tenancies.
2. The type of tenants. There is generally likely to be more wear and tear from a family with young children than a single professional occupier.
3. The quality of the items involved. The trend with new developments is to use materials noted for efficiency, such as recycled plastic and bamboo, rather than more long-lasting traditional products like stonework or concrete. The result is that redecoration is likely to be needed more frequently.
4. Frequency of use of items. It is obvious that items such as carpets, wallpaper and worktops that are in constant use are likely to become worn. However, a carpet worn by frequent use is a different matter to one that has burns or stains. In the latter case it is damage, not wear and tear.
The upshot is that wear and tear is part of the life of a tenancy and should be expected by a landlord. To avoid any disputes it is sensible to have a thorough inventory of the property’s condition prepared at the beginning of the tenancy, including photographic evidence, which can be checked when the tenancy ends.