Fact Sheets


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, part from 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 meant by “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 to cupboards is reasonable wear and tear, the Residential Tenancy Commissioner will consider a range of factors including:       

  • the age, quality and condition of the item at the beginning of the tenancy;
  • the length of the tenancy;
  • the size, extent and noticeability of the damage;
  • the cause of the damage;
  • the average lifespan of cupboards. According to the Australian Taxation Office, cupboards depreciate at 2.5 per cent per annum however life span depends on normal use, materials etc.

Please be aware that you are also responsible for damage caused by guests that you have invited onto your property.


None of the following decisions are binding on the Residential Tenancy Commissioner or the Magistrates Court of Tasmania, though they might provide a guide as to how your case may be decided. Any decision will be highly dependent on the specific circumstances of your case.

  1. Significant chips to a laundry cupboard is not reasonable wear and tear in Murphy v Woods (Tenancy) [2010] NSWCTTT 609

  2. Scratches on kitchen cupboard doors caused through normal use of the kitchen so is reasonable wear and tear in Fournaris v Andrews (Tenancy) [2009] NSWCTTT 583

  3. Cupboard door needed to be re-hinged after falling off during tenancy. It was considered reasonable wear and tear as the ingoing condition report noted that door was ‘cracked, scuffed and does not close properly’ in Argyle Community Housing v Nation Pty Ltd (Tenancy) [2009] NSWCTTT 233

  4. Despite cosmetic water damage to the kick board the laundry door is still functional so tenant does not have to pay for replacement cost in Murphy v Woods (Tenancy) [2010] NSWCTTT 609

  5. Cupboard shelf partly eaten away by acid. Despite small amount of damage there was no functional loss as cupboard did not have to be replaced. Claim was dismissed in Bitkin v Kinna (Residential Tenancies) [2018] VCAT 851

  6. Cupboard that had ‘fallen to bits during tenancy’. Any deterioration was reasonable wear and tear because at least eight years old and ‘on the lower end of the range for quality and durability’. Claim dismissed in Shaw v Buziuk (Residential Tenancies) [2015] VCAT 240


The onus is on the landlord to proof that the tenant has caused the damage to the cupboards and that they have suffered loss as a result. However, the tenant can and should provide their own evidence and arguments in support of their case.

If the landlord alleges damage to cupboards the tenant can argue that:


The cupboards have not been damaged during the tenancy. Evidence to support this claim may include:

  • Ingoing Condition Report
  • Outgoing condition report
  • Photos and/or video from start and end of tenancy


There is damage, but it is reasonable wear and tear. Evidence to support this claim may include:

  • Evidence of the length of tenancy
  • Evidence of the number of people living in the property
  • Evidence of household composition (eg adults, children, elderly people)
  • Evidence of the age of the carpet
  • The ingoing condition report/ photos demonstrating the condition of the carpet at the beginning of the tenancy
  • Photos demonstrating that damage not excessive


There has been damage and it is the tenants responsibility, but the amount of money the landlord is claiming is excessive. Evidence to support this claim may include:

  • Cheaper quotation/s from different suppliers
  • Receipts demonstrating that repairs/ cleaning were carried out
  • Evidence demonstrating the extent of damage
  • Evidence demonstrating the impact of the damage on the function of the carpet
  • Evidence of the age of the item. According to the Australian Taxation Office, cupboards depreciate at 2.5 per cent per annum, however lifespan depends on normal use, materials etc




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.


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