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LEGAL DICTIONARY

Wear and Tear

What Is Wear And Tear?

“Wear and tear” is a term landlords and property owners use to refer to what is considered normal damage or deterioration resulting from ordinary use by a tenant. The legal meaning of the term can vary from state to state.

What You Need to Know About Wear and Tear

What is considered normal wear and tear (also called reasonable wear and tear) is essential for both landlords and tenants when they consider a rental application and sign a lease agreement.

Here are typical examples of normal wear and tear in rental homes. Landlords cannot hold tenants responsible for these types of problems.

  • Faded or worn carpet

    • Minor scuff marks on floors
    • Minor wall scuffs from door handles
    • Sun-faded window coverings
    • Wobbly door knobs
    • Warped door frames or windows
    • Loose or dirty grout around floor tiles
    • Minor chips or discolorations in the paint

    On the other hand, here are examples that may be considered property damage rather than normal wear and tear.

  • Burns or pet stains on floors and carpets
  • Holes in doors or walls
  • Unauthorized wallpaper or paint
  • Missing or ripped window coverings
  • Broken enamel in kitchen or bathroom
  • Broken doors or windows
  • Missing screens
  • Damaged or missing furniture or appliances

What Happens When Damage Is Not Normal Wear and Tear?

Depending on the timing and severity of the damage to the rental unit, tenants could lose all or part of their security deposit or face eviction. In order to ensure the landlord and tenant both recognize and understand damages that cannot attributed to normal wear and tear, a landlord should conduct a move-out inspection with the tenant.

During this inspection, the landlord can point out damages that appear out of the normal wear and tear range, allowing the tenant time to clean, repair, or replace things if possible.

What can landlords do to reduce damages?

If the damages remain unchanged upon move-out, the landlord must follow all local and state laws regarding the use of the tenant’s security deposit to pay for the damages. Part of this process is creating a detailed, itemized list of the damages.

Many landlords make periodic inspections of their rental units to reduce the chance of abnormal wear and tear expenses. These scheduled inspections, which should be part of the lease agreement, allow the landlord to become aware of any excessive damage, repairs, or replacements needed that the tenant is not reporting.

These walk-throughs and following a regular maintenance plan can save both landlords and their tenants stress, time, and money. Both landlords and tenants can benefit from taking clear photographs to document the condition of the home before moving in and after moving out. These photos will provide evidence in the event either party disputes the conditions.

Make sure that any lease agreement you use clearly defines what damages are not normal wear and tear.

Start your Lease Agreement now

Helpful Resources:

T&H - Normal Wear and Tear Explained

What Is Wear And Tear?

“Wear and tear” is a term landlords and property owners use to refer to what is considered normal damage or deterioration resulting from ordinary use by a tenant. The legal meaning of the term can vary from state to state.

What You Need to Know About Wear and Tear

What is considered normal wear and tear (also called reasonable wear and tear) is essential for both landlords and tenants when they consider a rental application and sign a lease agreement.

Here are typical examples of normal wear and tear in rental homes. Landlords cannot hold tenants responsible for these types of problems.

  • Faded or worn carpet

    • Minor scuff marks on floors
    • Minor wall scuffs from door handles
    • Sun-faded window coverings
    • Wobbly door knobs
    • Warped door frames or windows
    • Loose or dirty grout around floor tiles
    • Minor chips or discolorations in the paint

    On the other hand, here are examples that may be considered property damage rather than normal wear and tear.

  • Burns or pet stains on floors and carpets
  • Holes in doors or walls
  • Unauthorized wallpaper or paint
  • Missing or ripped window coverings
  • Broken enamel in kitchen or bathroom
  • Broken doors or windows
  • Missing screens
  • Damaged or missing furniture or appliances

What Happens When Damage Is Not Normal Wear and Tear?

Depending on the timing and severity of the damage to the rental unit, tenants could lose all or part of their security deposit or face eviction. In order to ensure the landlord and tenant both recognize and understand damages that cannot attributed to normal wear and tear, a landlord should conduct a move-out inspection with the tenant.

During this inspection, the landlord can point out damages that appear out of the normal wear and tear range, allowing the tenant time to clean, repair, or replace things if possible.

What can landlords do to reduce damages?

If the damages remain unchanged upon move-out, the landlord must follow all local and state laws regarding the use of the tenant’s security deposit to pay for the damages. Part of this process is creating a detailed, itemized list of the damages.

Many landlords make periodic inspections of their rental units to reduce the chance of abnormal wear and tear expenses. These scheduled inspections, which should be part of the lease agreement, allow the landlord to become aware of any excessive damage, repairs, or replacements needed that the tenant is not reporting.

These walk-throughs and following a regular maintenance plan can save both landlords and their tenants stress, time, and money. Both landlords and tenants can benefit from taking clear photographs to document the condition of the home before moving in and after moving out. These photos will provide evidence in the event either party disputes the conditions.

Make sure that any lease agreement you use clearly defines what damages are not normal wear and tear.

Start your Lease Agreement now

Helpful Resources:

T&H - Normal Wear and Tear Explained