What is the law regarding wear and tear and damage?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What is the law regarding wear and tear and damage?

My former landlord is really nickleing and dimeing me on my damage assessment for my security deposit. We occupies the unit for 5 years, and of course with kids there was some issues with paint, some stains on carpet, etc.

After 5 years, what is the likelihood that all the paint can be considered wear and tear? What about the carpet? I read that I can only be charged for the useful life of the carpet that I used/ was left. The carpet was 8 years old, so is it possible that the carpet was already full depreciated so it should be ignored as it would have needed to be replaced anyway? In fact, they replaced all the carpet in the living room. The carpet in question was only one bedroom.

Asked on October 30, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

There is no hard and fast rule:if you cause damage beyond "normal wear and tear," you are liable for the cost to repair or replace. The issue is what is "normal wear and tear." Generally, stains are NOT normal wear and tear on carpeting: wear is (e.g. the carpet getting more threadbare and dingy), but discrete stains (e.g. from urine, from wine or hot chocolate, from grease, from paint from kids' art projects, etc.) is not wear and tear and is damage you may be charged for. Similarly, paint being worn and scuffed is wear and tear; chips knocked out from children playing in the house, or spots where children drew on the walls, is not wear and tear. If you did damage requiring replacement of carpet, they may charge you the cost to replace--you do not get a reduction for depreciation.

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