Normal Wear and Tear

Housing Provider Tips,

Question: What are some "Wear and Tear" Guidelines for Security Deposit Deductions?


Examples of Normal Wear and Tear for which a Security Deposit should NOT be Kept

* Minor chipped, peeling or worn paint
* Rusty fixtures in kitchen or bathroom
* Wear on carpets
* “Bubbled” or raised carpets or linoleum
* Loose or missing grout around tile in kitchen or bathroom
* Discolored/faded kitchen or bathroom linoleum
* Sun damaged curtains or shades
* Lack of finish on hardwood floors
* Water damage caused by leaky roof

Examples of Damage that may Warrant the Retention of All or Part of the Security Deposit

* Holes in walls or doors
* Burns in carpet, linoleum, or counters
* Ripped linoleum
* Crayon marks on walls or fixtures
* Missing or broken fixtures, doors, or appliances
* Missing or damaged window screens
* Damage caused by pets
* Flea infestation caused by pets
* Torn drapes, blinds, or shades
* Lost or broken keys
* Water damage caused by tenant possessions such as fish tank or plants
* Toilet clogged with unflushable items
* Broken tiles in the kitchen or bathroom
* Damaged furniture provided in furnished rental unit
* Mildew caused by lack of proper cleaning
* Excessively greasy parking space

Question: At tenant has moved out and there is severe damage to the carpet, which was new when he moved in two years ago. Can I deduct from the security deposit for this?

Answer: California law allows deductions from the security deposit for damage, exclusive of normal wear and tear. According to the California Department of Consumer Affairs:

Normal wear and tear includes simple wearing down of carpet or drapes because of normal use or aging, and includes moderate dirt or spotting. In contrast, large rips or indelible stains justify a deduction from the tenant’s security deposit for repairing the carpet or drapes or replacing them if that is reasonably necessary. On common method of calculating the deduction for replacement prorates the total cost of replacement so that the tenant pays only for remaining useful life of the item that the tenant has damaged or destroyed. For example, suppose a tenant has damages beyond repair an eight-year-old carpet that had a life expectancy of ten years and that a replacement carpet of similar quality would cost $1000. The landlord could properly charge only $200 for the two years’ worth of life (use) that would have remained if the tenant had not damaged the carpet.