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What is considered normal wear and tear?
What is considered normal wear and tear?

Outline of what can be charged to a tenant who is vacating. These items are often deducted from the tenants security deposit.

Adam Willis avatar
Written by Adam Willis
Updated over a week ago

Having a rental property and tenants, owners should expect normal wear and tear items that need to be taken care of in a home. For example, new carpet after five years (60 months), painting the entire interior, adding mulch to the yard, and other items. It is good to keep that in mind especially during the turn process, as it is likely that you may hear the term "Normal Wear-and-Tear."

What is considered "Normal Wear-and-Tear?"

  • Normal Wear and Tear means the deterioration that occurs based upon the use for which the rental unit is intended and without negligence, carelessness, accident, misuse, or abuse of the premises or contents by the TENANTS, their family, or their guests. 

  • We consider the following items as Normal Wear and Tear: nail holes used to hang pictures, minor spot painting between tenants, traffic wear in carpet, carpet replacement after 5 years, scuffed hardwood floors, sometimes minor cleaning between tenants, worn toilet seats, rekeying or replacement of worn locks, blind replacement due to sun damage or paint flaking, caulking or any other similar maintenance.

  • Anything above and beyond is deducted from the tenants' deposit at the sole judgment of Nestwell.

  • In the event there is a list of maintenance items that need to be completed upon move out and it will not be able to be paid back through the tenants' deposit, as the property owner you will be billed for the work the amount will be billed back to the tenant and a collection will be filed against the tenant. 

Normal vs. Excessive Damage

Normal Wear & Tear Landlord's Responsibility

  1. A few small nail holes, chips, smudges, dents, scrapes, or cracks in the walls. Typically no more than 10 throughout the entire home. 

  2. Faded paint 

  3. Carpet faded or worn thin from walking

  4. Slightly torn or faded wallpaper

  5. Dirty or faded lamps or window shades

  6. Scuffed varnish on wood floors from regular use 

  7. Dark patches on hardwood floors that have lost their finish over many years 

  8. Doors sticking from humidity 

  9. Warped cabinet doors that won’t close 

  10. Cracked window pane from faulty foundation or building settling 

  11. Shower mold due to lack of proper ventilation 

  12. Loose grouting and bathroom tiles 

  13. Worn or scratched enamel in old bathtubs, sinks, toilets 

  14. Rusty shower rod or worn varnish on plumbing fixtures 

  15. Partially clogged sinks or drains caused by aging pipes 

  16. Moderately dirty mini-blinds or curtains 

  17. Bathroom mirror is beginning to “de-silver” (black spots) 

  18. Worn gaskets on refrigerator doors 

  19. Broken clothes dryer because the thermostat has given out

  20. Small nicks, dings, and dents in appliances 

  21. Smelly garbage disposal

  22. Replacement of fluorescent lamps - or any light bulb designed to last for years of continuous use

  23. Trimming trees, shrubs, and other plants every other year.  

Excessive Tenant Damage Resident's Responsibility

Tenant damages usually require more extensive repair and at greater cost than “normal wear and tear." They are often the result of a tenant's abuse or negligence that is above and beyond normal wear and tear. The list below is not all-inclusive.

  1. Gaping holes in walls from abuse, accidents, or neglect. Unapproved paint colors or unprofessional paint jobs. Dozens of nail holes need patching and repainting. 

  2. Water damage on walls from hanging plants or constant rubbing of furniture.  

  3. Unapproved wallpaper, drawings, or crayon markings on walls 

  4. Holes, stains, or burns in the carpet. Food, urine, and leaky fish tanks are never "normal". 

  5. Torn, stained, or missing lamp and window shades 

  6. Chipped or gouged wood floors, or excessive scraps from pet nails

  7. Water stains on wood floors and windowsills caused by windows being left open during rainstorms 

  8. Broken doors or ripped-off hinges 

  9. Sticky/dirty cabinets and interiors 

  10. Broken windows from the action of the tenant or guests

  11. Shower mold due to lack of regular cleanings 

  12. Missing or cracked bathroom tiles 

  13. Chipped and broken enamel in bathtubs and sinks 

  14. Missing or bent shower rods or plumbing fixtures 

  15. Clogged sinks or drains due to any stoppage (hair, diapers, food, etc.), or improper use 

  16. Missing or broken mini-blinds or curtains that are less than seven years old.

  17. Mirrors caked with lipstick and makeup. 

  18. Dryer that won’t turn at all because it’s been overloaded or the lint trap was never cleaned out. 

  19. Broken refrigerator shelf or large dents in the front 

  20. Damaged disposal due to metal, glass, or stones being placed inside 

  21. Replacement of most standard light bulbs 

Depreciation Schedule

Recently the federal government updated its guidelines on how long carpet and vinyl/laminate should last. It used to be that the recommendation was pro-rating carpet on a 7-year depreciation schedule and vinyl/laminate on a 10-year depreciation schedule. However, the guidelines are now five years for carpet (60 months) and 27.5 years for vinyl/laminate (330 months). As of April 21, 2023, we only charge for the unused life of the carpet or vinyl/laminate in conjunction with the updated guidelines.

Sometimes, the carpet may have been fully depreciated but still has a “useful life.” This often is true in single-family homes where higher quality carpet may be used or in settings where a commercial grade carpet is used. Regardless of the circumstances, the useful life of the carpet may allow a landlord to charge more than the depreciated value of the carpet. However, this would require substantial evidence of the carpet's condition at the time of move-in. The safe harbor is always to follow the depreciation schedule.

It should be noted that if the carpet continued to have a "useful life" after full depreciation, a landlord may be able to charge, at a minimum, the removal and installation costs.

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