"Normal Wear and Tear" versus "Damage"

At move out, who is responsible for what?

Normal Wear and Tear

Normal wear and tear is the slightly "lived in" appearance of a property after it has been used for its intended purpose.

Examples of Normal Wear and Tear:

Generally, the landlord is responsible for returning the property to its rentable condition, except for damage. Landlords cannot charge the tenant to upgrade their property.


Damage is when the condition has suffered due to careless or improper use (even if innocent), abuse, or neglect.

Examples of Damage:

Generally, the tenant is responsible for the costs of damage and cleaning necessary to return the property to rentable condition, except for normal wear and tear.

Life Expectancy

The physical items throughout the property have an expected usable lifetime. If they require replacement after that lifetime, the landlord bears the expense as a cost of doing business. However, if their useful life is shortened due to tenant carelessness, improper use, abuse, or neglect, the tenant is responsible for the expense, adjusted for the remaining expected lifetime.

Examples of Life Expectancy:

If an item with a 10-year life expectancy was brand-new at move-in and was damaged beyond repair after five years, the tenant is responsible for one-half the cost to replace it.

Take Photos

The landlord and tenant should take photos of the property condition before and after to the tenancy to avoid disputes regarding the condition and responsibility.