How does one define “fair wear and tear”?

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Bigfellah | 15:57 Mon 04th Jul 2011 | Interiors
7 Answers
I have tenants, a family who have been in the house for four years. I have now been approached by the managing agent with a list of items that the tenant wants me to have done in the house.
1. Bath tub and shower in the main bathroom is leaking very severely to such an extent that the tenants can’t use the bath.
2. In the main bathroom the toilet seat joints are loose and needs fixing.
3. Kitchen door latch broken and door swollen from all the rain.
4. Ceiling in spare bedroom paint has started to peel.
5. Oven coming loose out of the cabinet it is installed in
In the lease agreement, the lessee:
“Is responsible for the maintenance of the interior of the premises, fair wear and tear excepted”
“Shall properly maintain and where necessary repair and/or replace at his cost, any doors, door handles, locks and keys, glass, window fasteners, electrical fittings and fixtures, bath, basins, sanitary wear, water taps, etc.” and again fair wear and tear excepted.
Main question is how does one define “fair wear and tear”?
Once that is answered do all the above items fall under tat definition?
Other landlords may have some advice on this.
Thank you very much.


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No expert, but that seems a good question to me, and suggests the agreement is open to interpretation.

The way I look at it the tenant isn't helpless and ought to be better off fixing small problems as maintenance rather than having to put up with problems while they report them and wait for you. I mean exactly how difficult is it to get a screwdriver/wrench and tighten a toilet seat ? But if you are fixing other larger problems is it really worth arguing about simply because they seem incapable ? Perhaps you can fix small stuff as a gesture of good will.

Worth recalling that it is in your interest the place is kept up to scratch. If you want to stand your ground, do consider whether it is worth the hassle it gives you. Maybe it is best to get it sorted in your own interest and have a better worded contract next time.
PS this may be better in the Law forum.
Bigman ......... thinking from the viewpoint of common sense for the moment, disregarding any legal points:
In your position, I would put that list right straight away. Maybe the doorlock could have been broken by them, but, it's such a minor item, I would be inclined to fix it along with everything else.
Remember, it's your property. It's in your interest to keep it in good repair. Those items listed are not huge jobs now, but if left, will certainly develop into major ones ............ costing a whole lot more.
Any delay and argument over liability is going to mean, possibly, that these things won't be repaired.
Also, a lot of ill feeling will be created. I'm just suggesting that, a few months down the line, the arguments and inevitable deterioration will begin to get out of control.
They all sound like fair wear and tear to me, doesn't sound like anything caused through malicious damage or negligence on the part of the tenants, so your liability.
Question Author
Thanks guys

In my book "Ceiling in spare bedroom paint has started to peel" means tenant should get painting as it is standard maintenance to be done bt=y the tenant.!

Also "In the main bathroom the toilet seat joints are loose and needs fixing" means tenant needs to either check and tighten the bolts or if broken replace with new seat. Again standard maintenance to be done by the tenant.

I cannot inspect the property myself as it is abroad but I will visit later this year to check and have a few words with the agent and possibly the tenant! Seems he may be a bit lazy!
1. Normal .. Especially in budget bathrooms where good quality fittings/sanitarywear not been installed solidly.
2. Ditto.
3. Internal/External? If external nightlatch .. why is it getting wet? Unprotected door timber?
4. Damp above .. water leak above? Paint over deposits .. tobacco smoking deposits?
5. Chipboard enclosure .. small chipboard screws? Oven door tight? Pretty normal problem.
I'd say that was general maintenance .. some of which has been notified late.
fair wear and tear is dirty marks, and wear marks in carpets etc...out of the above list the only thing that might be due to fair wear and tear is the toilet seat whick has probably come loose with usage and may only need its bolts tightening
The rest would be your problem ....If I were your tenants I'd expect those jobs to be sorted pretty soon or I'd be inviting the local authority private tenants officer to make an inspection. Especially where there is a problem with an external door and with the bathroom and oven as there are likely to be health and safety issues involved

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