What is Normal Wear and Tear?

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What is Normal Wear and Tear?

Oh My Apartment · Oct 5, 2009

As you live in an apartment, there’s a certain level of wear and tear that’s normal. Just by doing things like walking over the carpet on a daily basis or running the heater during the winter, you’re going to wear out your carpet and appliances just a little bit. It isn’t damage, because it will happen no matter who is living in the apartment — but some landlords will try to use some of that normal wear and tear to justify keeping at least part of your security deposit when you move out.

You may have some room to negotiate with your landlord at the end of your lease when it comes to your security deposit. If any damage to the apartment can be chalked up to normal wear and tear, you may have a better chance of getting more of your security deposit back. That normal wear and tear can include any of the following:

  • Some dirt and dings on the walls, although not much. Whether holes from hanging artwork falls under normal wear and tear depends on what limits on artwork your landlord listed in the lease.
  • Carpets that are a little more worn down than when you moved in from walking on them and vacuuming shouldn’t be a problem, but stains in the carpet may be.
  • Your appliances should be in good working order — if there was a problem with them at any point while you were renting the apartment, you should have reported those issues at the time.
  • Keys should still work smoothly. It’s easy to forget the wear and tear on keys but it can be a major problem when you move out.

As long as your apartment is in generally good shape when you move out, you may be able to convince your landlord that any minor problems are just a matter of wear and tear. You can improve your chances by planning ahead. Have photos of your apartment from when you moved in, as well as a good idea of how well your appliances were working and other details about the state of the apartment, so you can argue your case. It’s especially important to have a record of any damage already in place when you move in. Even if the landlord has made a note of it, some types of damage can speed up wear and tear overall. It’s also worthwhile to document damages during the time you lived in the apartment — those details can help determine which problems with the apartment can be attributed to wear and tear.

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