Damages vs. Wear and Tear

Your tenant has vacated the property and you know have 21 days to account for the security deposit. The law allows landlords to deduct portions of the security deposit to cover the cost of damages caused by a tenant. Landlords cannot deduct normal wear and tear, or the expected depreciation of property. E.g. If carpeting has been destroyed and it is 8 years old, perhaps no allowance is appropriate as the floor coverings are due for replacement. Similarly, destruction of brand new carpet may result in full replacement cost to be deducted from the deposit.
Damage vs. Ware and Tear: What Can Be Deducted from Security Deposits?
The law allows landlords to deduct portions of the security deposit to cover the cost of damages caused by a tenant. However, landlords cannot deduct to repair normal war and tear, or the normal depreciation of property.

Normal wear and tear is the physical deterioration that occurs with normal use. Wear and tear generally excludes occupants’ or their guests’ negligence, carelessness, an accident with, or abuse of the premises, fixtures, or personal property. Normal wear and tear is deterioration or depreciation in value by ordinary and reasonable use.
Other signs of everyday wear and tear are worn electrical switches, frayed pull strings on blinds, lightly scuffed hardwood floors, loose caulking, peeling wallpaper, faded curtains, and dirty windows screens. Time and regular daily use can cause any of these items to become worn, which does not constitute damage.
When a tenant causes damage beyond normal use, a landlord has cause to charge the tenant for the damages. This may include damages inflicted by the tenants, their guests, or pets.
• Matted carpet or furniture impressions are war and tear; burned or stained carpeting is damage.
• A few small nail holes are ware and tear; large holes in the walls constitute damage.
• Fading or yellowing of paint is wear and tear; large stains on the walls and ripped wallpaper are damage.
• If you have a leaky window that allows rain to blow in, have it repaired before it damages the woodwork around the window or the flooring.
• If you have a dripping kitchen pipe, have it repaired before it causes the wood under the sink to rot.
• If the wall behind a door is missing a doorstop, expect that the doorknob may punch a hole into the wall.
• Worn carpet and linoleum is ware and tear, Stained carpet and linoleum is damage.
Written By: Patti Widget