What is fair wear and tear?

So what the deal with 'fair wear and tear'? It's vague and totally open to interpretation.

Defining ‘fair wear and tear’

‘Fair wear and tear’ basically means the normal deterioration of a property from ordinary, everyday use. Such factors as exposure to the elements, time and just day-to-day living can cause fair wear and tear.

Although the laws vary across Australia, the industry broadly accepts this definition of ‘fair wear and tear’.


  • Faded curtains or frayed cords
  • Furniture indentations and traffic marks on the carpet
  • Scuffed wooden floors
  • Faded, chipped or cracked paint
  • Worn kitchen benchtop
  • Loose hinges or window or door handles; worn sliding tracks
  • Cracks in the walls from movement
  • Water stains on carpet resulting from a leaky roof or bad plumbing
  • Worn paint near a light switch

What is NOT fair wear and tear:

  • Curtains that are missing or torn by the tenant’s cat
  • Stains or burn marks on the carpet
  • Badly scratched or gouged wooden floors
  • Unapproved or poor-quality paint job
  • Burns or cuts in benchtop
  • Broken panes from one of the tenant’s children hitting a ball through the window
  • Holes in walls from tenant hammering in nails or from removing picture hooks or shelves
  • Water stain on carpet resulting from an overflowing bath or indoor pot plants
  • Paint damage resulting from removing decorations stuck with Blu-Tack or sticky tape