Differentiating Fair Wear and Tear from Property Damage to Upholstery

It’s important to be aware of the distinctions between property damage and wear and tear when it comes to the upholstery provided in your rented property (this refers to the soft coverings of sofas, armchairs, mattresses and similar furniture). Whilst with regular use, general wear and tear is inevitable, property damage often requires repairs or replacement.

Upholstery can be expensive, so if your landlord can see it has been damaged beyond what constitutes fair wear and tear, they’re within their right to request deductions from your deposit (or pursue a claim if you’re in a zero deposit tenancy). The amount they can request varies and it may not always be for the full cost of an item (take a look at this example of a case study for more information on how this works).

What counts as wear and tear and what counts as damage?

Wear and tear is a gradual deterioration that occurs over time, as a result of normal use. This can include things like: 

  • Fading of the fabric
  • Loosening of the stitching
  • Sagging
  • Pilling of the fabric

Property damage is any damage that is caused by negligence or an intentional act. So, things like: 

  • Spilling food or drinks and leaving it without cleaning up
  • Burning or staining
  • Puncturing or tearing
  • Scratching or denting

Note: We always make sure our landlord clients consider the item's condition when the contract-holders moved in when it comes to what percentage of a replacement cost they can make a claim for. A claim shouldn't leave the landlord better off than when you started renting, which is called betterment.

Guidance on cleaning stains from your upholstery before you move out

If you’re noticing stains on your upholstery, there may be a chance to rectify this by using appropriate methods of cleaning. Take a look at these guides:

Not sure about something? We’re here to help

If you aren’t sure whether a particular issue with your upholstery would be deemed damage, it’s best to let us know ASAP as there’s still time for our team to offer you advice and help you avoid any claims. Carefully inspect the upholstery to determine the extent of the damage and send through clear photos to maintenance@cpshomes.co.uk, along with an explanation of what happened. A member of our team will get back to you to discuss solutions for addressing the damage.

How to prevent upholstery damage in future

The best way to prevent damage is to take good care of it, so bear these tips in mind for your next home. Also please be sure to take as many photos as possible of upholstery on the day you move in so you can refer back to this dated documentation and clearly illustrate what was there when you moved in. 

  • Buy a mattress protector and if you do ever spill things clean it up immediately.
  • Don’t put drinks and hot dishes directly on your furniture.
  • Try to be careful, but if you do spill something on your upholstery, clean it up immediately. If your landlord can see you made a good effort at trying to clean up the spill, it is more likely to be considered wear and tear at the end of your tenancy.
  • Vacuum upholstered sofas and chairs regularly.