Fair wear and tear & how you can prevent the domino effect

29-Jan-2017

As an investment property owner, have you ever wondered what the term “fair wear and tear” actually means when it comes to making allowances for tenants?

Some landlords question us when we tell them that we are required by law to make an allowance for fair wear and tear in their property. Unlike what you may think, this is by no means an excuse to let tenants get away with damaging your property.

The fact is, the older a property becomes and the less it is maintained, the more it will be subjected to natural wear and tear. A home is to be lived in, so you have to expect a reasonable amount of wear and tear to things like floor coverings, walls, doors and window furnishings. The same applies to your own home.

There is a trap that many people fall into however when it comes to wear and tear – complacency. The more things become worn, the harder it will be attract the best tenants. This can often lead to a domino effect whereby the wear and tear becomes exponentially worse as time goes by.

Knowing that it’s much easier to keep a well maintained home in great condition than it is to maintain a home in poor condition, there is a general rule of thumb in property management that a rental property should have minor refurbishments completed every seven to ten years. This could involve a fresh coat of paint, new floor coverings (or sanding and polishing of existing floor boards) and new window furnishings. In other words, around the seven year mark, the property has been exposed to seven years worth of “fair wear and tear”, meaning it is most likely starting to look a bit long in the tooth. Do nothing, and by the ten year mark, you may have a poorly presented property on your hands that you are unable to find quality house-proud tenants for.

Our best advice is to plan ahead by putting a bit of money aside each year if possible so that when it comes time to give the property some love, you will have the funds set aside for it (remember, money you spend on your investment property is tax deductible). By improving your property, you will have a far better chance of attracting and keeping good quality tenants who are not only house proud, but are also prepared to pay a premium for a premium home.