Wear and tear versus damage in a rental.

When it comes to renting, there can be occasional misunderstandings about what constitutes fair wear and tear and what’s actual damage in a rental property.

And with different parties responsible for each, it’s a common source of friction when a rental agreement ends.

So, what’s fair wear and tear, and what’s damage, and who is responsible for each?

Fair wear and tear

Regardless of its age, a property will deteriorate over time due to normal day-to-day use. For example, carpets will age and wear due to foot traffic, walls may get scuffed and blinds might become sun-damaged or faded.

All these are part of the expected aging process of any property, and they are something the property owner should take into account as they consider their ongoing maintenance, repair and replacement costs for the property.

Wear and tear occurs due to the normal use of the property and also its environment.

Key examples include:

  • Faded curtains and blinds
  • Furniture indentations in carpet
  • Worn carpet in high-traffic areas
  • General scuffs on wooden or vinyl floor
  • Loose hinges and doorknobs
  • Wall cracks due to property movement
  • Faded, cracked or chipped paint
  • Worn kitchen benches
  • Scuffed paint around lightswitches
  • Wood rot in decking or balustrading due to a wet environment


Damage, on the other hand, involves the destruction or misuse of the property beyond normal everyday use.

And this damage can either be deliberate or accidental. For example, if a carpet is stained due to the occupier dropping something on it, that’s damage. Or if there’s a hole in the wall due to it being knocked, that’s considered damage.

In this instance, the rental occupier is responsible for remedying that damage, or risk it being deducted from the bond.

Examples include:

  • Broken windows
  • Wall holes
  • Ripped fly screens
  • Cracked tiles
  • Deep scratches in wooden flooring

How to work out the difference

Working out whether something is fair wear and tear or damage can occasionally be confusing, but there are some factors to take into account to help identify which category it falls into.

  • Property age and type

Older properties tend to require additional maintenance, with the wear and tear simply coming down to the property’s age.

  • Length of rental period

If a rental occupier has resided in the property for a lengthy period, you would expect there to be more wear and tear at the end of an agreement simply due to the property’s natural deterioration over time.

  • Intent

If the damage to a property is deliberate, that’s a very clear indication it falls into the damage category, rather than fair wear and tear.

  • Negligence

Sometimes a rental occupier’s failure to take reasonable action is the cause of damage to a property. For example, if they position a pot plant on carpet and that carpet then rots, this would be considered damage.

How we can help

Our experienced property managers pride themselves on establishing great relationships with both rental occupiers and owners.

We manage every property as if it were our own and you can learn more about our property management services here.

Alternatively, if you are looking to rent a property, you can view the properties we currently have available here.