It is an age old issue when it comes to a tenant vacating, and this is the debate over fair wear and tear vs damage.

More often than not the owner and the tenant never agree as the owners sees it as damage and the tenant believes it to be wear and tear.

When it comes to the Residential Tenancy Act “fair wear and tear” is somewhat vague and open to interpretation, it’s understandable that disagreements arise.

Defining “Fair Wear & Tear” vs “Damage”
Fair wear and tear generally means the deterioration that happens through day-today use (e.g. carpet gets worn from people walking on it). Or the ordinary exposure to natural elements (e.g. sunlight, rain). Damage, whether it be accidental or not, is injury to real or personal property through another’s negligence, wilful destruction or carelessness.


(Landlords Responsibility) 

(Tenants Responsibility)

Faded curtains/blinds or frayed cored
Curtains/Blinds that are stained or torn
Traffic marks on carpet or floorboards from walking
Stains on carpet or scratches in floorboards
Faded or cracking paint
Holes in walls or damaged paint from hooks in walls
Worn kitchen benchtops
Burns, cuts or stains on benchtops
Minor scuff marks on walls or ceiling
Paint damage resulting from removing Blu-Tack, sticky tape or adhesive hooks
Exterior decking discolouring from exposure to weather
Dents in walls from tenants moving furniture


When determining the amount of the charge to the tenant, it is a requirement to take into account depreciation of the item.  The best example of this would be carpet damage.  If the tenant ruins your 5-year-old carpet, your are not allowed to charge the tenant 100% of the cost of the new carpet as the existing carpet was 5 years old.  The life of carpet generally speaking is usually 10 years so if a tenant moved in to a property with 4-year-old carpet that was in good condition, moved out at the end of the year and ruined the carpet with stains while they were there, we would only be able to defend a charge of 1/2 of the cost of the new carpet (the carpet is 5 years old when the tenant vacates so there should have been 5 year of life left in the carpet).

The best way to avoid disputes at the end of the tenancy is to ensure a detailed condition report with photos is undertaken at the start of the tenancy and routine inspections carried out during the tenancy so if any issues arise they can be identified quickly. Refer to the below images as an example of the procedures Rose & Jones undertake.

As always if you have any queries please feel free to contact our property management team and we would be happy to assist.




Written by
Jamie Hargrave-Smith
Senior Property Manager


Fair Wear & Tear vs Damage