Security Deposits
What is the Difference Between Wear and Tear and Damage?

What is the Difference Between Wear and Tear and Damage?

What is the Difference Between Wear and Tear and Damage?


What is the Difference Between Wear and Tear and Damage?

The definition of "wear and tear" isn't always easy to recognize. However, it is an important one for tenants to understand because it can make all the difference when you are moving out of your apartment and trying to get your security deposit back.

What Does Ordinary Wear and Tear Mean?

Your rental agreement may contain a clause that requires you to return the apartment in the same condition as when you rented it "except for reasonable or ordinary wear and tear." This is usually considered to be the average deterioration of carpets, furniture, and other items associated with a rental unit due to regular use over time.

When you move out, only the cost of damages that were avoidable and negligent may be deducted from a security deposit, as opposed to simply living or using the property.

For example, a carpet that has been worn away due to people walking in and out is ordinary wear and tear. However, something like a cigarette burn in the carpet is damage that is avoidable negligence. Additionally, renters may be charged for cleaning where the tenant has caused filth beyond normal use, such as pet stains.

Examples of Wear and Tear

California laws defining wear and tear are indeterminate. However, California court cases where landlords and tenants disputed damages provide examples to what normal wear and tear is, including the following:

  • Small scuff marks on the wall
  • Minor scuffs on wood floors
  • Small chips of paint from door frames
  • Faded carpet or tread and dirt in carpets
  • Scratched or worn enamel on bathtubs or sinks
  • Small nail holes in the wall
  • Minor wear on appliances, and the natural decrease of useful life for appliances

Examples of Damage Where Tenant Can be Charged

One way to gauge whether the tenant will likely be financially responsible for the damage is whether the condition was caused by the tenant's own neglect, misuse, or abuse, and not from just using or living in the unit. Some examples where the tenant may be charged, include the following:

  • Rips, tears, holes, burns, or stains on the carpet
  • Chipped or broken enamel on the bathtub or sink
  • Excessive scraps or scratches on furniture (usually because of pets)
  • Cabinet pulls or missing door handles
  • Water damage caused by hanging plants
  • An inordinate amount of nail holes in the wall

Talk to an Attorney about San Francisco Tenants' Rights

If you're moving out of your apartment, you want to get your full security deposit back as soon as possible to set up your next housing opportunity. You don't want your landlord to withhold your deposit especially if you believe that you didn't damage the property beyond any ordinary wear and tear. A skilled attorney can help you if you're having issues with your landlord about this. Take action by turning to a Wolford Wayne attorney-- Contact us today to learn more.

Related Posts You Also May Like

Get Started

For more information or to discuss your legal situation, call us today at (415) 649-6203 for a phone consultation or submit an inquiry below. Please note our firm can only assist tenants residing in San Francisco, Oakland & Berkeley.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.