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What is ordinary wear and tear in California rental properties?

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2022 | Landlord Tenant Law

One of the hardest elements to find agreement on in landlord-tenant law is sometimes the ordinary wear and tear of rental property. If the property owner and those living in the unit disagree on normal wear and tear, it can lead to landlord-tenant disputes involving security deposits.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to determine whether there was more than normal wear and tear in rental properties, especially when the tenant has lived there for a long time. Landlords must often rely on their knowledge and documentation of the property before the tenancy when identifying possible damage.

An example

When your tenant moves out, you inspect the property and notice carpet damage. You believe the tenant’s dog chewed the two-year-old carpeting in front of the door and several other spots where it is threadbare or absent completely. A two-year-old carpet would likely remain in good condition without misuse.

However, you took photos of the home, including the carpet, before the tenant moved in. Your photos confirm your belief that the carpet was not damaged when the tenant took occupancy. Under these conditions, you could probably withhold a portion of the deposit to cover the carpet damage.

Types of ordinary wear and tear

Some of the property issues that can develop due to normal wear and tear include:

  • Scuff marks on flooring
  • Warped window and door frames
  • Loose floor tile grout
  • Faded or worn carpet

Always document the condition of your rental properties before a new tenant moves in. A record of your property conditions helps you avoid landlord-tenant disputes. It also provides you with a means to track damage and make repairs or replacements of affected areas as needed.

Becoming more familiar with California landlord-tenant laws is also an effective way to prevent potential disputes with your tenants.