What Is Normal Wear and Tear?
Normal wear and tear is often defined as the overall decline of a residence from daily tenant use. This wear and tear could include items like dirty grout, worn carpet, and minor wall scuffs.
Landlords cannot fix up their rental property at the cost of the tenant. As a landlord, you must return the tenant’s security deposit — as long as there are no property damages beyond normal wear and tear.
See Residential Lease Security Deposit Terms
Normal Wear and Tear vs. Property Damage
For normal wear and tear, the landlord will most likely be responsible for returning the residence to its original condition.
For property damage, the tenant will most likely be liable. If that’s the case, the tenant’s security deposit will go towards repairing that damage.
Examples of Normal Wear and Tear
- A few small nail holes, chips, smudges, dents, scrapes, or cracks in the walls
- Faded paint or slightly torn, faded wallpaper
- Carpet faded or worn thin from walking
- Scuffed wood floors from regular use
- Doors sticking from humidity
- Warped cabinet doors
- Mold due to lack of proper ventilation
- Loose grouting in bathroom tiles
- Worn or scratched enamel in bathtubs, sinks, or toilets
- Any worn appliances due to use over time
Examples of Property Damage
- Gaping holes on the wall or dozens of nail holes
- Unapproved paint colors, wallpaper, or unprofessional paint jobs
- Holes, stains, or burns in the carpet (e.g., from food, urine, or colored liquids)
- Gouged wood floors
- Broken doors or windows due to abuse
- Missing or cracked bathroom tiles
- Damaged or cracked mirrors
- Any damaged appliances due to abuse or neglect
What Is the Life Expectancy of Features in a Rental Property?
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a list of various items and their life expectancy:
- Water Heaters: 10 years
- Carpeting: 5 years
- Air Conditioning Units: 10 years
- Ranges: 20 years
- Refrigerators: 10 years
- Interior Painting – 3-5 years
- Tiles or Linoleum: 5 years
- Window Shades, Screens, and Blinds: 3 years