What Exactly Is "Normal Wear and Tear"?

What Exactly Is "Normal Wear and Tear"?

July 9, 2021

What Exactly Is "Normal Wear and Tear"?

Normal wear and tear is a term that landlords encounter in managing their rentals. Learning this term will help you become more informed on what are considered to be legal deductions on a renter’s security deposit.

The law stipulates that only property damages that resulted from neglect or abuse can be deducted from the deposit. Damages that resulted from normal wear and tear are exempted.

Innovative Property Solutions has compiled a guide to help you determine whether or not you can deduct repair fees from a tenant’s security deposit!

What Is Normal Wear and Tear?

Normal wear and tear is the acceptable depreciation of your rental unit, its furnishings, and its appliances. All things have their expiry date, and this includes the objects inside your property. Frequent usage leads to natural deterioration.

Why Is the Difference Between Normal Wear and Tear and Property Damage Important?

It’s important to differentiate normal wear and tear from excessive property damage so you can easily assign the repair cost to the responsible party.

Landlords are obliged to pay for damages that resulted from wear and tear. Renters are responsible for the repair charges in case they neglected their duty to maintain your unit or cause damage due to abuse.

What are examples of normal wear and tear damages?

As stated, for normal wear and tear damage, the landlord is expected to cover the repair and replacement charges. The reason is that this type of damage is not anyone’s fault. It’s natural for things to experience a decline, especially when they’re frequently used.

normal wear and tear

What are examples of excessive property damages?

When dealing with property damage, the cause is not automatically assigned to the renter. Some landlords can be neglectful of their responsibility in taking care of the unit. The flooding of the interiors may be due to not attending to a roof leak. Thus, the landlord can still be accountable to pay for the repair costs.

Addressing Routine Maintenance In Your Rental

As a landlord, it’s your duty to keep your rental space in stellar condition. Doing so can prevent damages from occurring. It can also slow down the natural deterioration of an object. Property owners normally follow set routine maintenance to achieve a liveable rental home.

Here are tasks they commonly perform:

Regular Cleaning

In between tenants, hiring professional cleaners can ensure your home is spotless. If this is standard practice prior to a new tenant’s move-in, then asking the old tenant to chip in with the cleaning cost is absurd. But if the previous tenant has left the rental in a messy state, then it’s acceptable to pass on the cleaning charges. You can make a deduction from the security deposit.

routine property cleaning

The tenant is expected to reasonably clean the rental unit so before the last day of stay, and the rental must be presented in a good condition. You can hand out a list of cleaning tasks to ensure that the tenant is able to return the rental in an orderly state.

Carpet Cleaning

If it’s part of your maintenance to clean the carpet, then it’s unfair to pass this cost on to your renter. Study the stains. Does it require professional cleaning? Was the carpet rundown in the first place? Does the carpet need to be replaced because of heavy stains caused by the renter? If the carpet was new, then it makes sense to charge the replacement to the renter.


Most landlords repaint the unit in a space of 2 to 3 years to keep it attractive to renters. When a tenant moves out and there are markings on the walls, then it’s acceptable to charge the renter.

If the wall was painted with an unapproved color, then this can also become a ground for passing the cost of repainting. However, if it’s within the 2 or 3 year routine maintenance period, then you can just apply a new coat of paint without deducting it from the tenant’s security deposit.

Dealing with Average Life Expectancy

Nothing is infinite, and there’s an average life expectancy for household items. Knowing this, the landlord can easily account for wear and tear.

object life expectancy

If property damage is involved, computing for the costs is easier. You can divide the cost of repair or replacement with your tenant. However, you pay for the entire repair or replacement if the item has reached its end of life.

Note down the longevity of these common items in your rental unit:

Proper Documentation

You can’t expect to remember when you purchased an appliance or furnishing. It’s best to record the dates. Another way to document is to capture the before and after state of the items. This can work as evidence in case there are future disputes. You can reason with the tenant and attach the pictures when giving them a list of the estimated repair or replacement costs.

Setting a Budget Repair

Knowing the reality of normal wear and tear, it’s logical to keep a set budget fund. This helps you promptly fix any damages that occur due to natural deterioration. You will reduce your worries about repair fees and keep your rental in a habitable condition.

Bottom Line

A landlord can keep the rental property attractive as long as proper maintenance is observed. Fixing damages related to normal wear and tear is a regular part of maintaining a property. With the above guide, you’ll be able to divide the responsibilities of repair costs correctly and avoid disputes.

Innovative Property Solutions

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(904) 321-9020

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