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Fair Wear and Tear

Unfortunately, it’s part of life when it comes to property – pipes leak, ovens stop working, windows get broken, and fittings and fixtures wear out over time.

What can tenants and landlords expect when repairs are needed in a rental property?

We often have owners ask about the condition of their property when a tenant moves out. And, while we all like to see properties looking pristine and perfect, the reality is that even the best tenants cannot prevent fair wear and tear. The longer a property has been leased for, the more likely it is that you will see signs of wear and tear – of it having been lived in and used on a day-to-day basis.

So what exactly is “fair wear and tear?” and how is it different from other maintenance and damage? We look at who is responsible for what.

What is fair wear and tear?

Fair wear and tear is the damage that occurs to a property through normal day-to-day use by a tenant or the ordinary activity of natural forces like sunlight or rain. Curtains faded by the sun, carpet worn in high traffic areas like a hallway or paint flaking because it is old are all examples of fair wear and tear. It accounts for natural deterioration, but it doesn’t include other damage caused accidentally or intentionally by tenants – like spills and carpet stains, or burns in a curtain or holes in walls.

Different factors can impact wear and tear, from the quality of the property’s fixtures and fittings, to the number of occupants in a property.

As a general rule, landlords, not tenants, are responsible for repairing damage caused by fair wear and tear. At the end of a lease, tenants are expected to hand back their rental home in a similar state to how it was at the start of the tenancy – but normal wear and tear is taken into account.

Other maintenance and repairs

Landlords (or their property managers) are responsible for keeping their rental property in a reasonable condition and making sure it complies with all WA health, building and safety laws.

When a repair is required in a rental property, the tenant should notify the landlord or property manager as soon as possible. Urgent and non-urgent repairs are dealt with differently.

Landlords have 24 hours to arrange a repairer to attend to urgent essential services repairs, such as a burst water service, gas leak, broken hot water system, sewage leak or dangerous electrical fault, or 48 hours to organise a repairer for other urgent repairs. Tenants can arrange repairs themselves if they are unable to contact the landlord within those timeframes.

In the case of a non-urgent repair, tenants should contact their landlord or property manager in writing with information about what needs to be fixed. Landlords should respond to repair requests within a reasonable time, and tenants must keep paying rent while they wait for the landlord to arrange repairs.

Any fixtures like a TV aerial, air conditioning or solar hot water system provided in the home as part of the tenancy agreement must be kept in good working order by the landlord.

From a landlord’s perspective, proactive property maintenance is always wise. Rather than waiting for a small problem, like leaf-filled gutters, to snowball into a big one, like a rain leak, being proactive and staying on top of maintenance protects your investment property and ultimately saves you time and money.

When tenants cause damage

If tenants cause damage – whether intentionally or accidentally – they will be expected to pay for repairs or replace the damaged property. This includes damage caused to any common areas. Examples of damage for which a tenant is liable to include curtains torn by a pet, carpet burnt or stained by things dropped or placed on it, and mould formed because the tenant hasn’t aired the home properly.

If damage occurs, tenants should notify the landlord or property manager as soon as possible.

The importance of property condition reports

The state of a rental property should be recorded in the property condition report at the beginning of every tenancy. The report is a room-by-room account of the exact contents and condition of the home, including anything broken or in poor shape.

Not only is a property condition report a legal requirement for every residential tenancy in WA, but it can also help resolve any disputes about damage. It’s in both the landlord and the tenant’s best interest to complete it properly and thoroughly.

For more information please contact the team at Rentwest today on 08 9314 9888.

(Article by Rentwest).

Vic Park Life

White picket fences and backyards with mulberry trees. Apartments and town houses and villas and everything in-between. It’s got a bit of everything.

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