Wear & Tear in Rental Properties

In Western Australia tenants are not responsible for rectifying what is classed as ‘fair wear and tear’ to a property. It’s only when the tenant has been negligent or has intentionally caused damage to the premises that he or she is liable to pay for repairs.

Fair wear and tear is basically classified as normal deterioration to the property due to ordinary, everyday use. Factors such as exposure to the elements and sun, aging due to time, but also day-to-day living can cause fair wear and tear. An example would be carpets being “traffic worn” from people generally walking on them.

But what does the Residential Tenancies Act say about fair wear and tear? Unfortunately not much – There is no definition of fair wear and tear in the Act however it does describe the tenant’s responsibilities for cleanliness and certain repairs.

When the term ‘fair wear and tear’ is used it can be somewhat vague and open to interpretation, so

it’s understandable that disagreements arise.

Fair Wear And Tear

Reasonable wear and tear is generally considered to be:

  • Changes which happen during the normal use of the premises or their fixtures or fittings
  • Changes which happen due to the natural ageing of premises or their fixtures or fittings

And may include such things as:

  • Faded curtains or frayed cords
  • Furniture indentations and traffic wear on the carpet
  • Faded paint
  • Loose hinges or window or door handles; worn sliding tracks
  • Cracks in the walls from movement


  • Curtains that are missing
  • Stains or burn marks on the carpet
  • Badly scratched or gouged wooden floors
  • Burns or cuts in benchtop
  • Holes in walls from tenant hammering in nails or from removing picture hooks or shelves
  • Paint damage resulting from removing decorations stuck with Blu-Tack or sticky tape

The reality is that wear and tear on a rental property will occur over time. Landlords should expect a level of wear and tear on their rental property whilst it is being tenanted. And tenants should ensure that they don’t cause avoidable damage.

The key to avoiding disputes over wear and tear versus damage lies in the preparation of a thorough property condition report – complete with detailed photos. This report is provided to the tenant at the commencement of the lease and is a true record of the condition of the property.

This is why it is important for your Property Manager to carry out regular inspections and advise the tenant and the landlord on the property’s upkeep. We also welcome our landlords to attend some property inspections at least bi-annually to keep up to date on the properties condition to prevent surprises as the property ages over time.

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