There are several damages a landlord can deduct from a tenant’s deposit. However, there are certain household items that will experience normal wear and tear over time. This is referred to as “fair wear and tear”.
Fair wear and tear is seen as damage or loss to an item at the property which happens as a result of ordinary use and exposure over time.
According to the Rental Housing Act, a landlord is free to claim compensation for damage to the property caused by the tenant, except for fair wear and tear.
It’s important to remember that the original condition and age of the item at commencement of the lease agreement needs to be taken into account, and therefore cost of depreciation of the item due to normal wear. Paint fades, doors and walls get scuffed with use, and everything wears or breaks over time, even with a tenant who really cares for the property, and one can’t hold a tenant liable for this.
If a tenant or landlord has a problem, they can go to the Rental Housing Tribunal to resolve it.
The Rental Housing Tribunal
The Rental Housing Tribunal is a useful resource for both landlords and tenants who are dealing with rental property disputes in different forms. Cases that the Rental Housing Tribunal deals with include:
- Tenants defaulting on their rent
- Failure to repay a deposit
- Invasion of a tenant’s privacy
- Overcrowding of a rental property
- Determining a fair rental amount
- Illegal seizing of a tenant’s property
- Discrimination against a prospective tenant
- A receipt for rent not being issued
- Unacceptable behaviour by a tenant
- Lack of maintenance and repairs to the property
- Illegally refuse a tenant access to the property or interrupt services
- Unacceptable living conditions
A general rule of thumb is that, if a tenant has damaged something that does not normally wear out, or the tenant has substantially shortened the life of something that does wear out, the tenant may be charged the prorated cost of the item. The landlord should take into account how old the item was and how long it may have lasted otherwise, as well as the cost of replacement.
Ordinary wear and tear to carpets should not count against the tenant, however large rips or stains would be considered damage. Any deduction for the tenant’s deposit should take into account the age of the carpets, compared with the expected total time of usage.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)