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What is considered normal wear and tear?

What s constitutes normal vs. excessive when it comes to rental properties? This is an age-old question that all landlords face at some point. We compiled a list that while not comprehensive, covers many of the common areas of concern.  First, let’s define our terms.

Wear and Tear
Normal wear and tear is any damage that occurs in on a property due to aging. Typically this kind of damage is merely the result of a tenant(s) living in the property and is considered a part of normal depreciation. Its cause is neither neglect or abuse of the property by the tenant(s). This kind of depreciation damage is the landlord’s responsibility to fix.

Damage is not naturally occurring. It is harm that was done that affects the value, usefulness or normal function of property. This damage can be committed on purpose, or through neglect.

Below are examples of both normal wear and tear and damage.














Under California law, a landlord must return the renter’s security deposit, with an itemized statement of deductions, within 21 days after the renter has surrendered the rental property to the landlord (that is, returned the keys and vacated the property).

The law allows landlords to deduct portions of the security deposit to cover the cost of damages caused by a tenant. This may include damages inflicted by the tenants, their guests or pets.

As a landlord, you can expect a tenant to dispute any withholding of monies from their security deposit occasionally. A landlord may believe an issue at the property is considered damage, while the tenant may see it as normal wear and tear, the best way to avoid this type of conflict is to perform a comprehensive walk-through inspection before the tenant moving in.

Be prepared with a checklist of known items of concern and note any additional damage or defects. Both you as the landlord and the tenant should sign this agreement acknowledging the current condition of the rental unit.