Tenant Damage versus Normal Wear and Tear

Tenant Damage versus Normal Wear and Tear

Tenant Damage versus Normal Wear and Tear can be confusing for many. Normal wear and tear is essentially the deterioration of an item that occurs under normal conditions. Tenant damage usually requires more extensive repair, and at a greater cost than “normal wear and tear”, and are often the result of a tenant’s abuse or negligence that is above and beyond normal wear and tear.

Normal costs of turning over a rental property after a tenant vacate MAY NOT be charged to the TENANT. The costs an OWNER incurs for the basic cleaning and repairing of such items necessary to make a unit “rent ready” for the next TENANT are part of the cost of doing business. The following is a list of items typically attributable to routine use or “normal wear and tear”.

Examples of Tenant Damage versus Normal Wear and Tear:


  • Worn or loose hinges on doors or locks
  • Doors with holes. Broken doors. Damage to door or doorframe from forced entry.
  • A few small nail holes, minor marks on or nicks in wall
  • Large or substantial holes or dents in wall.
  • Scuffed up floors
  • Badly scratched or gouged floors
  • Loose or inoperable faucet
  • Broken or missing faucet.
  • Toilet runs or wobbles
  • Broken toilet seat or tank top
  • Faded, cracked or chipped paint
  • Crayon marks, writing on walls, unapproved paint color or excessive dirt requiring more than one coat to cover
  • Carpeting/blinds showing average wear or fading by sun
  • Torn, stained or burned carpeting or curtains
  • Vinyl flooring worn thin
  • Vinyl flooring with tears, holes or burn marks
  • Worn or scratched enamel or stains on old porcelain fixtures that have lost their protective coating
  • Chipped and broken enamel in sinks and bathtubs or grime-coated bathtub and/or toilet
  • Bathroom mirror beginning to “desilver”.
  • Mirrors broken, missing or caked with grime
  • Worn gaskets on refrigerator
  • Broken refrigerator shelves, trays, bins or bars
  • Worn countertop
  • Burns or cuts in countertop
  • Cabinet doors that will not close
  • Greasy, sticky or broken cabinets and interiors.
  • Closet door off track
  • Damaged or missing closet door
  • Dusty blinds
  • Missing, broken or bent slats on blinds
  • Cracked window pain from faulty foundation, building settling or high wind
  • Broken windows or torn or missing screens
  • Food odors or smoke that dissipate over a few hours
  • Smoke damage to paint from smoking or burning candles or burning incense
  • Loose grout or tiles
  • Missing or cracked tiles
  • Partially clogged sinks caused by hard water
  • Clogged or damaged toilet caused by improper use
  • A dead bush or two which exceeded their lifespan
  • Neglected landscaping which must be replaced with similar plantings


Tenant Damage versus Normal Wear and Tear:

After determining if an item requires replacement due to a Tenant’s abuse or neglect (not normal wear and tear), to calculate Tenant’s responsibility, a Landlord must know: (a) actual cost to replace the item, (b) how long an item would be expected to be useful before it wears out (its “useful life”), (c) current age of the item, and (d) its remaining useful life. Landlord may only charge Tenant for the remaining useful life of an item.

Sample Life Expectancy Chart per the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development*

Hot Water Heaters10 yearsAll Units
Plush Carpeting5 yearsFamily
 7 yearsElderly
Air Conditioning Units10 yearsAll Units
Ranges20 yearsAll Units
Refrigerators10 yearsAll Units
Interior Painting-Enamel5 YearsFamily
 7 YearsElderly
Interior Painting-Flat3 YearsFamily
 5 YearsElderly
Tiles/Linoleum5 YearsFamily
 7 YearsElderly
Window/Shades/Screens/Blinds3 YearsAll Units

*If these items were in good condition at the time of move in, at it can be shown that damage, above normal wear and tear has been sustained, then a charge against the Tenant’s security deposit can be applied. Sample Life expectancy chart from United States Housing and Urban Development.


Cost of new dishwasher: $400

Useful life of dishwasher: 10 years

Age of dishwasher at the end of tenancy: 4 years

Remaining useful life: 6 years (10 years less 4 years)

Tenant Responsibility: $400 x .60 = $240

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