Normal Wear and Tear

Before you sign a lease and pay any money always view the property in person. Pictures are great but may not reflect the most current condition of the home. When you sign a lease you are agreeing to rent a property in its current condition, make sure you know what that condition is. After you sign a lease it’s to late to negotiate repairs, cleaning or upgrading as a condition of your lease and if you decide not to move in all monies paid are lost. The landlord does not have to refund your money because you changed you

Before you move into a rented Home or Apartment, be sure to do a walk through with the owner or property manager. Why? Because when you move out, the landlord may attempt to charge you for “damages” to the unit. What defines damages is often contested and the tenant, unless they have a move-in-checklist and pictures, may lose out in court.

General rule of thumb – are you leaving the unit in the same condition as when you moved in? Again take pictures and have the landlord or property manager agree to the condition. Same when you leave.

A landlord can only withhold for damages only amounts that are deemed reasonable for the damage claimed. If a defect existed before you moved in, you should not be charged for that particular problem. The importance of pictures and a move-in checklist cannot be stressed enough.

Normal Wear and Tear is vague term and means different things to different people. So protect yourself.

When you move in and out

Take pictures – use a disposable or video camera. Pictures are worth a thousand words and therefore, dollars. Sign and date the pictures and save them in case your landlord does not return your security deposit.

The average cost to clean an average apartment is $135 for the full job. If you do not have time, consider hiring a cleaning service.

Normal Wear and Tear may include things such as faded paint – you yourself did not cause the paint to fade, thus you would not be responsible if and when the landlord decides to repaint.
Damages are actual things in the apartment that you or your guests actually break – such as a window or a hole in the wall.

One common method of calculating the deduction for replacement prorates the total cost of replacement so that the tenant pays only for the remaining useful life of the item that the tenant has damaged or destroyed.
For example, suppose a tenant has damaged beyond repair an 8 old carpet that had a life expectancy of ten years, and that a replacement carpet of similar quality would cost $1,000. The landlord could properly charge only $200 for the two years’ worth of life (use) that would have remained if the tenant had not damaged the carpet.

Normal (typical)

  • Faded Paint. Paint may have a “useful life of 3 -5 years, depending on who you ask. However, if you paint with a better paint, wiping down the walls works well.
  • Old, worn carpet when you moved in or furniture marks in carpet. The natural wearing down of carpet or drapes because of normal use or aging.
  • Worn hinges on doors or locks. Hole or ding in wall from missing door stop. Check each door.
  • Broken plumbing pipes, unless you damaged them. Central drain problems, not caused by your incorrect disposal of items. Older homes with old sewer lines may get roots growing through them, clogging the system.
  • Dirty Blinds – as in dusty.
  • General dust in the apartment.
  • “Faded” curtains that were in the unit when you came. However, to remove curtains that you placed and did not remove, you may be charged.
  • Bulb that went out in the refrigerator.


  • Holes in wall from hanging pictures, removal of Decals on the walls. Larger gouges etc.
  • Tear in carpet, animal stains (even if landlord knew you had a pet). Burn marks – iron, cigar, cigarette, ground in stains.
  • Doors with holes. Doors or windows broken. Glass etc.
  • Clogged drains caused by your misuse of sinks or toilets. A reminder to women, be sure to dispose of feminine products in the trash, not the toilet.
  • Broken or missing blinds or curtains. If they were there when you moved in, they must be there when you leave. If you do not want them, discuss this with your landlord. If he says “I don’t care” send him a letter to confirm…as we discussed..
  • Eliminating Flea infestations caused by tenants animals. The same for smoke damage from smoking or burning candles.
  • Excessive Bathroom mildew. Use a good cleaning product like Tilex or Spray 409 weekly.
  • Broken shelves in a refrigerator. Excessive dirt/dust in the refrigerator vents. This is the area under the unit. Be sure to vacuum to improve the performance. Every time you vacuum, vacuum around the unit.
  • Excessive dirt or filth in an oven or refrigerator. Defrost the refrigerator if not frost-free. Stoves can take 2-3 hours to clean if you have cleaned it. Use Easy-off. That’s why they named it that.

These guys are awesome! They made the entire process painless; I don't know what we'd have done without them. Thank you!

Apr 22, 2014 by John Q Public

These guys are awesome! They made the entire process painless; I don't know what we'd have done without them. Thank you!

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