What is 'Fair wear and Tear'?

‘Fair wear and tear’ is a very old phrase that has been used in tenancy agreements for centuries.

There are two parts to its meaning:

  • ‘Fair’ relates to the cause of the damage. It says that for damage to be excused, it must have occurred in the course of fair use of the property for residential purposes. Something like carpet deterioration in high traffic areas of the premises (e.g. hallways) could definitely occur in the course of fair use and be excused.On the other hand, it would be hard to argue that motor oil stains on a lounge room carpet occurred during fair use. This type of damage would almost certainly be considered to fall outside fair wear and tear.
  • ‘Wear and tear’ refers to the effect of the damage, and limits the severity of allowable damage. Minor scuff marks on walls, sun-fading of curtains and minor oil stains on a concrete driveway would all likely constitute fair wear and tear. On the other hand, a large red wine or cordial stain on the carpet would probably be considered to be more than merely wear and tear, even though such a stain clearly could have happened in the course of fair use. What is ‘fair wear and tear’ depends on the facts of each case. If you and the landlord can’t agree, it will be decided in the ACAT. The Member will consider the condition of the property at the start and the end of the tenancy, as well as the general age and condition of the property.