Property: Accidental Damage vs Wear and Tear

Some have unrealistic expect­a­tions that their property will remain in exactly the same con­di­tion at the end of the lease as when ten­ants first move in.

messy room

The real­ity is though, that wear and tear on a rental property will occur over time.

Land­lords should expect a level of wear and tear on their rental prop­erty while it is being tenanted.

It is important to understand the difference between accidental damage and wear and tear.

While tailored landlord insurance may cover claims for accidental damage, wear and tear is gen­er­ally excluded and can­not be claimed.

Acci­dental dam­age is defined as being caused by a sud­den and unex­pec­ted event, this might include spill­ing red wine on the carpet.

In con­trast, wear and tear accu­mu­lates over time.  

An example might be car­pets.

Depend­ing on the qual­ity of the car­pet, its life span could be five to seven years.

This means that if a ten­ant has been in the prop­erty for a num­ber of years, you can expect there to be signs of foot traffic and flattened or bare patches.

In insur­ance terms the car­pet has not been dam­aged acci­dent­ally or mali­ciously, but may be in a reas­on­able con­di­tion given the tenant’s time in the property.

It’s like liv­ing in your own home – over time there will be signs you have lived there, but this wear and tear can­not be claimed on insurance.

Examples Of Acci­dental Damage

  • Spill­ing red wine on carpet
  • Hole in the wall caused by ten­ant mov­ing furniture
  • Cracked floor tiles after a heavy sauce­pan is droppedinspection report house problem buy property

Examples Of Wear And Tear 

  • Foot traffic marks on carpets
  • Scuff marks on floor coverings
  • Minor scratches/scuff marks on paintwork
  • Dirty hand marks on curtains/blinds

One of the main reas­ons land­lords con­fuse wear and tear for acci­dental dam­age is because after leas­ing their prop­erty they often don’t see it again until the end of the rental agree­ment.

This is why it is import­ant for your prop­erty man­ager to carry out reg­u­lar inspec­tions and advise you on the prop­er­ties up keep.


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Jhai Mitchell


Jhai is the Internet Marketing Business Development Manager for Elders Toongabbie and Kings Langley. He has been consistently quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald and Real Estate Business online. Visit his blog at

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