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What is “Normal Wear and Tear”?

When Residents move out, it is standard practice to conduct a walk-through of the rental property to check for damages. If damages are detected, the repair costs will be deducted from the Resident’s security deposit. We love refunding a full deposit back to our Residents when they have taken care of the property and don’t damage a home beyond normal wear & tear. It is generally understood that Residents are not responsible for repair costs associated with ordinary wear and tear—this is a cost of doing business. This article will helpfully give you a better idea of what “wear & tear” actually means.

The standard definition of “ordinary wear and tear” in most states is deterioration or damage to the property expected to occur with normal usage. However, what about crayon marks, carpet damages or nail holes?

Minor marks or nicks on walls are normal – crayon marks, excessive nail holes and gouges are not. Carpeting or curtains are slightly worn or faded would be normal wear, torn, stained or burnt carpeting or curtains is not. If someone breaks a refrigerator drawer or the knobs on the stove, it is considered damage and not normal wear and tear. Damage from a pet chewing on baseboards is certainly not considered normal wear and tear.

Ordinary wear and tear generally applies to items like flooring, paint and woodwork. For example, carpeting has a set useful life. If carpet needs to be replaced after a tenant lives in your rental property for ten years, that is likely going to fall under “ordinary wear and tear.” On the other hand, a one-year tenant who damages brand new carpet would be liable for those damages.

Tenants must also return the property to the condition it was in when they moved in. If a tenant leaves dirt and grime behind, the landlord may have the rental unit cleaned and deduct the fee from the security deposit.

Our experienced property supervisors are thorough and specific when noting damages on the move out inspections. They document the move out by including photos and a brief narrative of the condition upon inspection. At the closeout, (21 days after move out) tenants are sent a security deposit disposition letter, and if applicable, a detailed list of any charges along with the move out inspection report relating to the damages. We keep all receipts for cleaning, repairs or replacement. In summary, normal wear and tear is the expected deterioration in the condition of a property due to normal everyday use in the course of living in the property. We don’t expect you to walk on eggshells throughout your tenancy, but as a Resident, you have made the reasonable agreement to not abuse or neglect the property. We are thrilled when we are able to refund a full security deposit back to our Residents due to them taking such good care of the property, and they are too! If you have any questions about your move out & want more information about getting your security deposit back upon move out, feel free to review our Move Out FAQ!

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.