Is tenant responsible for ordinary wear and tear?


When a tenant moves out, there are often things that are broken, need repair or rooms that need to be painted.  A tenant is not responsible for ordinary wear and tear to the apartment or house.  A tenant is responsible for any damage done intentionally or by tenant's negligence.


Pablo: The reason I was calling is because we are moving out and two of the fans have issues with them. One of them, the blade broke off in the middle of the night and just flew off and they are saying, "No, there is no way that happened because there is a kid in the room. Obviously the kid jumped up and grabbed the fan" then I said, "Look, that didn't happen." But they are making us replace the fans.

Then one of the other fans in the living room, the little thing around the light broke and fell off and they are saying we have to replace all those, the little covers and also replace that fan and we feel that is not our responsibility. I was wondering where do I fall, on what side do I fall on in the law.

Attorney Tom Olsen: All right Pablo, let's ask Attorney Rob Solomon on his thoughts on this.

Attorney Rob Solomon: The principal that is at stake here is what we call normal wear and tear. Things that happened during a tenancy that fall within the concept of normal wear and tear are not the tenant's responsibility. On the other hand, things which are not normal wear and tear and which could be attributed to the tenant's behavior and cause some damage would be -- they would be responsible for.

This is why have judges, is to hear people give testimony as to how things occur and whether which side of that line things fall on. Let me just tell you though, you need to let the landlord make a claim on your security deposit in the proper way, because most of these claims are improperly done and when they are improperly done, the landlord waves the security deposit. A smart Tenant waits after they have given them their forwarding address, waits to see whether a landlord properly makes the claim for the items they are saying they are going to make a claim for.

Attorney Tom Olsen: So Pablo might win this on a technicalities. First thing he wants to do is to make sure the Landlord has a new forwarding address for Pablo, and then hope that the landlord fails to give Pablo a timely notice of his intention to hold on to some of his security deposit for the broken fans, that would be the easiest way for Pablo to win.

Attorney Rob Solomon: Exactly and there are other things besides the timing, they have to use a certified letter, they have to have to use the right wording in that certified letter. There are a lot of things that the landlords typically get wrong, the smart tenant lets the landlord do those things improperly.