What should tenants consider at the start of their tenancy?

What is meant by 'Fair wear and tear'?

The House of Lords defines fair wear and tear as “reasonable use of the premises by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces”. The word ‘reasonable’ can be interpreted differently, depending on the type of property and who occupies it. In addition, it is an established legal principle that a landlord is not entitled to charge his tenants the full cost for having any part of his property, or any fixture or fitting “…put back to the condition it was at the start of the tenancy.” Landlords should therefore keep in mind that the tenant’s deposit is not to be used like an insurance policy where you might get ’full replacement value’ or ’new for old’. The landlord also has a duty to act reasonably and not claim more than is necessary to make good any loss. In addition to seeking the most appropriate remedy, the landlord should not end up, either financially or materially, in a better position than he was at start of the tenancy, or than he would have otherwise been at the end of the tenancy after having allowed for fair wear and tear. In order to avoid allegations of betterment by the tenant, any award for damage must take into account fair wear and tear, the most appropriate remedy, and that the landlord should not end up either financially or materially in a better position than he was at commencement of the tenancy or as he would expect to be at the end of the tenancy.

For example: Replacement of a damaged item may be justified where it is either severely and extensively damaged beyond economic repair or its condition makes it unusable; Repair or cleaning is a more likely award where replacement cannot be justified; In cases where an item has had its value reduced or its lifespan shortened, for example by damage, an award of compensation may be appropriate.

The above information is taken from. The ‘Deposit Protection Service’ publication entitled “Tenancy Deposits, Disputes and Damages”