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What Is Considered Normal Wear-and-Tear in a Rental?

Mar 2, 2022

When moving out of a rental, one of the biggest goals is to get your security deposit back. When living in a rental, however, it is inevitable that small damages will occur over the course of your occupancy as a result of everyday life. When you move out, these damages are assessed by your landlord and may become grounds for them to withhold some or all of your security deposit. In this article, we look deeper into what constitutes “normal'' wear-and-tear and how understanding this can better help you to get your full security deposit back.

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What Is Normal Wear-and-Tear?

Normal wear-and-tear is defined by Bigger Pockets as “the expected decline in the condition of a property due to normal everyday use.”

These types of minor damages occur as a result of everyday living and are things that would be generally expected to occur within the natural life cycle of a product. Even with the most responsible tenants, normal wear-and-tear, such as peeling paint or worn down floors, is practically inevitable.

As wear-and-tear is to be expected with normal living, it is not something that landlords can charge you for or withhold from your security deposit.

Wear-and-Tear vs Damage

While wear-and-tear is minor and to be expected with a rental, damages are qualified as more serious and can result in a deduction from your security deposit.

Damages are what would be considered unexpected to occur with normal living, such as a hole in the wall.

Rental damage can be the result of:

  • Neglect: Failing to take steps to protect the property
  • Abuse/Misuse: Knowingly mistreating the property
  • Accident: Unintentionally damaging the property

In all three of the cases above, the tenant is liable to pay to repair any damages that occurred during their residency. Even if the tenant did not directly cause the damage or do it on purpose, when it is beyond the normal level of wear-and-tear, the repair costs typically still fall on the tenant. For more in-depth definitions and examples, refer to this guide on Normal Wear and Tear Explained.

Examples of Normal Wear-and-Tear

Normal wear-and-tear will look different with each situation, but some common instances are:

  • Faded or peeling paint
  • Scuffed or worn down wood flooring
  • Moldy grout in the shower
  • Warping of wooden doors and drawers
  • Small nail holes (within a reasonable amount)
  • Small stains on carpets
  • Minor faults with appliances

nail hole.jpeg

Can a Landlord Charge for Normal Wear-and-Tear?

No, a landlord cannot charge you for normal wear-and-tear as long as the damages reasonably fall within that definition. However, you can be charged for anything beyond normal wear-and-tear.

The definition of what is reasonable is where many disputes between landlords and tenants begin.

One important thing that both tenants and landlords should do before moving in and moving out is to take pictures of the property and of anything that has noticeable damage. If something was there before your residence, having photographic proof gives you factual evidence to support your claim.

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How to Handle Wear-and-Tear Before Moving Out

If you want to make sure that you get back most, if not all, of your security deposit back, there are some things that you should take care of prior to moving out. These small tips can go a long way in keeping your landlord happy and giving you the best chances at a full refund.

Take Good Care of Your Rental

One way to make things easy on yourself at the end of your lease is to take good care of your rental during your time there. As we mentioned, normal wear-and-tear is not something that you can be charged for.

Treat your home with respect and take care of bigger damages as they come. The longer you let damaged appliances or interior finishes sit, the more likely they will become bigger problems. For this reason, fixing things as they break will save a lot of time, effort, and stress when you’re getting ready to move out.

Make Small Repairs

woman measuring window in order to make a repair

Making small repairs is another easy and cheap step that can help you get your full security deposit back and leave your home in great condition for the next tenants. For example, things such as small chips or holes in drywall can easily be fixed with a $6 container of putty.

Taking the time to fix these small damages will help to improve the overall appearance of the rental and, again, help your case for getting back a full security deposit.

Hire a Move-Out Cleaning Service

Lastly, hiring professional move-out cleaning services can help to leave your home looking brand new.

Professional move-out cleaners will be able to take care of dust, grime, stains, and more in your property. Letting an expert handle this part of the move-out process will take the stress off your hands and ensure your home looks spotless for when your landlord assesses its final condition.

Moveout.com provides a move-out cleaner marketplace for you to find move-out cleaners in your area. Get started and hire a trusted professional today.


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Article written by Cobalt Zucker

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September 2023

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