When a tenancy ends, there’s often confusion – and sometimes disputes – over what a landlord can claim as a deposit deduction.

So, let’s look at what’s reasonable to claim and how to avoid deposit disputes in the first place.

A landlord can deduct funds from a tenant’s deposit to cover*:

Fair wear and tear

When assessing a property at the end of a tenancy, landlords must allow for ‘fair wear and tear’. This term refers to the deterioration you would normally and reasonably expect to see over time.

In determining fair wear and tear, landlords should consider the number of tenants in the property and how long they lived there, along with the item’s age, quality and life expectancy.

For example, if a tenant has been in a property for three years, you would expect signs of some degradation in the carpets in high-traffic areas (i.e., fair wear and tear, no claim). By contrast, a red wine stain on a carpet would not constitute fair wear and tear, and the landlord could claim.

However, they could only recoup the costs of removing the stain, not the costs of installing swish new carpets. Why? Let us introduce you to another legal term.


By law, a claim shouldn’t put a landlord in a better position financially or materially than they otherwise would have been (or, in legal terms, ‘betterment’).

Getting the tenant to foot the bill to replace a carpet that was already well worn would put the landlord further ahead than they were at the start of the tenancy.

So, how do you find the balance between ensuring a landlord covers their costs without bettering themselves? To help with this, we use a formula that factors in an item’s age and lifespan. (Get in contact if you’d like to know more about the specifics.) 

That way, if the tenant challenges the claim, we can demonstrate our decision-making process. 

Avoiding disputes

Over the years, we’ve managed hundreds of tenancies, and we’ve learned that the best way to avoid stressful deposit disputes is to:

If you’d like us to guide you and your tenants through the check-in and check-out process, contact us today.

* This article is a guide only; it does not constitute legal advice.