WHAT ARE MY OBLIGATIONS AT THE END OF A TENANCY?
The tenant must return the premises to the landlord as nearly as possible in the same condition as set out in the ingoing condition report, apart from reasonable wear and tear.
WHAT IS “REASONABLE WEAR AND TEAR”?
Living in a home will cause wear and tear through ordinary day to day use and/or natural forces. This is what is known as “reasonable wear and tear”.
Damage that is caused by your intentional, negligent or careless actions is not reasonable wear and tear.
In determining whether damage in the bathroom is reasonable wear and tear, the Residential Tenancy Commissioner will consider a range of factors including:
- the age, quality and condition of any item at the beginning of the tenancy;
- the average lifespan of the item
- the extent and noticeability of the damage;
- the number of tenants and household composition;
- the length of the tenancy;
- the impact of the damage on future tenancies.
Please be aware, that you are also responsible for damage caused by guests that you have invited onto your property.
EXAMPLES OF WHAT IS REASONABLE WEAR AND TEAR
None of the following decisions are binding on the Residential Tenancy Commissioner or the Magistrates Court of Tasmania, though they may provide a guide as to how your case may be decided. Any decision will be highly dependent on the specific circumstances of your case.
Cracked tiles in the bathroom was reasonable wear and tear because the ingoing condition report noted tiling cracked around the bath in Weber v Franks (Tenancy)  NSWCTTT 414
A shower drain clogged by hair was reasonable wear and tear because not intentional or malicious in Toru & Raveora v Cheow (Tenancy)  NSWCTTT 410
Light fittings not left reasonably clean at the end of the tenancy having regard to the state of cleanliness at the commencement of the tenancy was not reasonable wear and tear in Hosseini v Charmoun  NSWCATCD 3
A cracked shower screen was reasonable wear and tear when landlord could not prove that damage was caused by negligent or intentional behaviour in Weber v Franks (Tenancy)  NSWCTTT 414
Shower hinges that needed to be replaced was reasonable wear and tear because there was no evidence that replacement became necessary because of any intentional or negligent act of tenant in Archer v Pacific Link Community Housing Association (Tenancy)  NSWCTTT 1345
Discolouration of tiles from using everyday cleaning products is reasonable wear and tear unless the landlord draws attention to the ‘special handling’ required by explicitly stating in lease agreement in Talevski v Yarrow (Residential Tenancies)  VCAT 324
A stained toilet is reasonable wear and tear unless the landlord can establish that the that the tenant failed to keep it in a reasonably clean condition Shaw v Buziuk (Residential Tenancies)  VCAT 240
A broken towel rail caused by the action of downward pressure on the removing or replacing of a towel is reasonable wear and tear in Howarth v McConchie (Tenancy)  NSWCTTT 541
A heated towel rail that has come away from the wall is reasonable wear and tear given that it was eight years old an the landlord was unable to establish that the tenant failed to take reasonable care of it in Shaw v Buziuk (Residential Tenancies)  VCAT 240
Heat damage to a vanity unit caused by a hair straightener was not reasonable wear and tear. Tenant had to pay compensation but not full replacement as the unit remained functional in Murphy v Woods (Tenancy)  NSWCTTT 609
Water damage to a vanity unit resulting in swelled wood and an inability to slide open drawers was not reasonable wear and tear because brand new vanity unit had been installed immediately prior to tenant moving in two and a half years ago in Jong v Beevers Real Estate  QCAT 90
Water damage to a vanity unit resulting in varnished wooden services being significantly degraded and the Cupboard doors swollen and split was not reasonable wear and tear in Okazaki v Dickerson  NSWCATCD 71
EVIDENCE YOU SHOULD PROVIDE IN A BOND CLAIM OR DISPUTE
As well as arguing that any damage to an item in the bathroom is reasonable wear and tear, you can also defend a claim to your bond on the basis that, for example:
The item has not been damaged. Evidence to support this claim may include:
- Ingoing condition report
- Outgoing condition report
- Photos and/or videos from start and end of tenancy
- Photos and/or videos from the end of the tenancy
REASONABLE WEAR AND TEAR
The item has been damaged but it is the landlord’s responsibility. Evidence to support this claim may include:
- Evidence of the length of the tenancy
- Evidence of the number of people living in property
- Evidence of type of people living in property (e.g. children/share house)
- Evidence of the age of the item
- Ingoing and Outgoing Condition Reports
- Photos from start and end of the tenancy
- Photos demonstrating that damage not excessive
- Evidence, such as signed and dated witness statements or statutory declarations, photographs, expert reports that damage occurred during the normal use of the bathroom.
LANDLORD’S CLAIM IS EXCESSIVE
The item has been damaged and it is not reasonable wear and tear, but the amount of money the landlord is asking for is excessive. Evidence to support this claim may include:
- Cheaper quotation/s from different suppliers
- Receipts demonstrating that repairs/cleaning carried out
- Evidence demonstrating the extent of damage
- Evidence demonstrating the impact of the damage on the function of the item
- Evidence of the age of item. According to the Australian Taxation Office Rental Properties Guide 2021 average lifespans are:
- Fixtures including vanity units, taps, toilets, wash basins and heated towel rails 10 years
- Accessories including mirrors, rails, soap holders and toilet roll holders 5 years
- Exhaust fans 10 years
- Shower curtains 2 years
We would like to acknowledge and thank the Eastern Area Tenants Service in New South Wales for their assistance. This factsheet was made available through the generous support of the Law Foundation of Tasmania.
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not legal advice. It is intended as a guide only. It applies only to legislation current in Tasmania as at 1 February 2022. For information regarding a specific tenancy problem please phone the Tenants’ Union on 1300 652 641 or (03) 6223 2641. The Tenants’ Union of Tasmania Inc. accepts no responsibility for actions based on this information, nor for actions based on electronic translations of this information.