Wear and tear is a topic that has different perceptions and it can often be a grey area when dealing with different issues. As property managers, it is our responsibility to Act for the property owner first and foremost however we also must act within the rules of tenancy legislation and the guidelines provided by the Residential Tenancy Commissioner. Below is an extract from the Residential Tenancy Commissioner's guidelines around wear and tear.
Reasonable wear and tear
A tenant is obligated under section 53 of the Act to return the property in the same condition as it was at the beginning of the tenancy, apart from ‘reasonable wear and tear’. Where an owner makes a claim against the bond for damage, the Commissioner will assess each claim on its individual merits. Ultimately, ‘reasonable wear and tear’ infers the reasonable use of the property by the tenant and the wear and tear imposed due to the operation of natural forces. By contrast, if the deterioration is caused by an act of the tenant within their control and outside the normal functioning of a household, the damage will be considered to be unreasonable. For example, a crack in a plate glass window, bad carpet stains, sticker marks on doors/walls, and severe or excessive scuff marks or chips to walls, all exceed reasonable wear tear in most cases. However, the Commissioner will consider several factors when a claim for damages beyond reasonable wear and tear has been made, including but not limited to:
• the condition of the item at the beginning of the tenancy;
• the quality of the item at the beginning of the tenancy;
• the overall state of the property at the commencement of the tenancy;
• the length of the tenancy;
• the size/extent and noticeability of the damage;
• the cause of the damage;
• the impact of the damage on future tenancies.
Ultimately, it is unreasonable to think that properties will stay in the exact condition as they were in when they were let - a certain level of wear is to be expected which will increase over the length of the tenancy and with the number of occupants.