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What is normal wear and tear?

What is normal wear and tear?

On Behalf of | Sep 19, 2022 | landlord-tenant disputes |

As a landlord, it’s inevitable that some level of damage or deterioration is going to occur while someone else is leasing the space from you. Landlords often take security deposits and to give them a little bit more protection. If the tenant causes severe damage to the apartment, then the landlord can take the security deposit to pay for the repairs.

However, there are often some conflicts between tenants and landlords when they don’t agree on what constitutes actual damage. You may claim that the tenant damaged the property and that it’s going to be expensive to fix. They may claim that it is just normal wear and tear, that you should have expected it and that you’re not allowed to keep their security deposit. Who is correct?

It can be a complex question

The truth is that this isn’t always as black and white as you would like it to be. Damage does happen in the course of someone living in a rental unit. Examples of normal wear and tear include things like:

  • Scratches on the baseboards
  • Discoloration on the walls
  • Scratches on a wood floor
  • Slight wearing of a carpet
  • Fading colors from the sun
  • Mild wear on doorhandles


No matter how careful someone is, this type of damage is just going to occur over the course of living in that space.

But where do you draw the line? Say that a tenant breaks a banister off of the staircase. You believe that this is advanced damage that they should have to pay to fix because they were being negligent when they broke it. But they say that this is just normal wear and tear, citing the fact that they always held onto the banister every time they went up or down the stairs. One time, it simply broke. They claim that you either didn’t maintain it well enough or that you should have expected this to happen eventually.

In a situation like this, you and your tenant may have to seek a legal resolution. Be sure you know about all of the steps you’ll have to take.