As a renter, you’re likely familiar with the phrase “normal wear and tear.” But if you don’t have a thorough understanding of what this description entails, you may not only lose part or all of your deposit, but also find yourself facing significant fees and penalties.
So, let’s clarify with a definition and examples. “Normal” wear and tear is the physical break down of property that happens as a result of someone using it as intended. And, for this type of use, the property’s owner (i.e., landlord) cannot penalize the user (i.e., renter). Examples of normal wear and tear include:
- Faded wall paint
- Modest traffic wear to carpet
- Furniture impressions in carpet
- Faded or worn curtains
- Walls dings behind doors without door stops
- Broken plumbing pipes or drains (unless due to improper use)
- Worn hinges on doors and locks
- Dirty or dusty blinds
- General dust throughout
While it’s likely the owner of your property may not be picky, and may place even more excusable damages on the list above, it’s best to err on the side of caution. That said, following is a list of damages that, if left behind, could result in financial penalty, either against your deposit or as an additional cost.
- Holes in the walls (nail holes or other)
- Carpet tears and wearing that goes beyond normal traffic
- Animal stains (even if owner is aware)
- Burn marks from irons, cigarettes, hot plates, etc.
- Doors and windows that are broken, or have holes or cracks
- Broken or missing blinds or window coverings
- Clogged drains due to misuse
- Broken furniture or shelving (if applicable)
- Excessive bathroom mildew
- Excessive dirt and/or mess throughout
- Burned out bulbs
- Broken fire/carbon monoxide detectors
While this list is fairly comprehensive, it’s far from exhaustive. So, the best recommendation we can make is to carefully read your apartment property’s tenant policy. For the property’s we manage, for example, this is where we identify the damage for which we will hold renters accountable.
Once you have an understanding of what’s expected of you, protect yourself by not only taking care of the property you rent, but by documenting your move-in and move-out with notes and photos.