Normal wear and tear is the regular deterioration that an apartment experiences as it ages that is not necessarily the tenant's fault. But, anything outside of this regular deterioration is known as apartment damage and would be considered the tenant's responsibility. Let's look at normal wear and tear and what it constitutes.
What Is Normal Wear and Tear on an Apartment?
Examples of Normal Wear and Tear
Normal Wear and Tear vs. Apartment Damage
Examples of Apartment Damage
Normal Wear and Tear & the Security Deposit
Normal Wear and Tear Bottom Line
Normal wear and tear is defined as the minor damage that occurs during a tenant occupying an apartment. Any minor damage that is not the result of carelessness, negligence, accidents, mistreatment, or intentional abuse would be considered normal wear and tear.
No matter how careful you are, the apartment will suffer a bit of damage from the normal aging process. Things will break or wear down due to someone living in the unit. However, not all damage is considered normal wear and tear, so it's essential to understand the distinction.
- Small cracks or chips in the paint
- Paint that is beginning to fade
- Door hinges are beginning to loosen
- Closets doors are starting to stick
- Dirty windows
- Leaks in the refrigerator
- Tile grouting is beginning to loosen
- Minor stains on the carpet
- Small holes in the walls from thumbtacks or nails
- Minor scrapes or scratches on the floors
If you live in an apartment for more than one year, even more deterioration will be expected, and many states have regulations regarding landlord obligations for things like paint and carpets. For example, landlords might be required to repaint an apartment every two years or to replace carpets every three years. In instances like this, even if you cause significant damage to paint or carpets, it would still be considered normal wear and tear.
Normal wear and tear is typically minor deterioration that would occur no matter who was occupying the unit. Apartment damage is more serious destruction or decay caused by the tenant's negligence or careless actions. Normal wear and tear typically don't impact the unit's viability, whereas apartment damage might. As a result, landlords usually don't hold tenants responsible for normal wear and tear, but apartment damage may result in penalties.
- Broken windows or doors
- Noticeable holes in the paint or plaster
- Broken fixtures and faucet handles
- Excessive dirt or mold in the bathroom from misuse
- Large stains on the carpet from coffee, red wine, or other noticeable substances
- Countertop burns
- Damage caused by pets
- Fixtures that came with the apartment are missing (e.g., microwave or shower rod)
- Cracked or missing tiles
- Significant alterations not approved by the landlord (such as painting a room an entirely new color).
To avoid being accused of apartment damage you didn't cause, you should be sure to take pictures of the apartment's condition when moving in. That way, you have proof that there was prior damage before you occupied the unit.
At the end of a tenant's lease, the landlord will inspect the property and compare its current condition to its original state from before the tenant moved in. Any damages beyond normal wear and tear, such as holes in the walls, broken windows, or stains on the carpet, will be deducted from the security deposit. Once all damages have been repaired and any unpaid bills have been settled, what remains of the security deposit will be returned.
It is important to document the property's condition before and after the tenant moves in to ensure that any damages taken out of the deposit are legitimate.
Normal wear and tear is considered reasonable and expected deterioration of a rental property that occurs over time due to normal use. As such, it is not the responsibility of the tenant to repair deterioration caused by normal wear and tear. Landlords should expect normal wear and tear and should not deduct the cost of repairs for such damages from the security deposit.