What Exactly is “Normal Wear and Tear”?

By mousa

When you use an object over time, it ages and gets damaged. This is known as normal wear and tear.

In the case of properties, this occurs when a tenant is occupying your space and is using your furniture and appliances on a regular basis.

Landlords are responsible for the repairs, maintenance or upgrades from normal wear and tear. However, tenant-caused damages fall on the renters to repair or replace.

Landlords need to document their property’s condition before renting it out. This way, they can distinguish between normal wear and tear and damage to their property.

Here are concrete
illustrations of normal wear and tear:

  • Dirty or worn-down tiles and carpets,
  • Scruffy wood floors,
  • Faded wall paint,
  • Worn down or slightly stuck hinges of cabinet doors,
  • Loosened wallpaper.

Let's take a closer look at the differences between both to help you in distinguishing them in your Detroit, Michigan property.

Comparison of Normal Wear & Tear vs Damage

If the tenant was careless or negligent and damaged something owned by the landlord, then it’s their duty to fix or replace it. The landlord is only liable to pay for normal wear and tear.

Another example is that wall paint fades over time. This is considered to be normal aging. On the other hand, if a wall has scratches and paint scrapes from constant bumping of the furniture, that’s classified as tenant-caused damage.

Here are other samples of damage caused by tenants:

  • Large holes in the walls,
  • Carpet stains and burns,


  • Scratches on walls and doors made by a pet,
  • Broken appliances,
  • Broken or missing blinds.

Defining Useful Life

When establishing the cost of the damage done to your property, it’s important to determine the average useful life of household items.

For example, say you charge a tenant for damage caused by using your refrigerator. You can’t expect a full price refund of the appliance because they have a life expectancy of only 10 years. If your refrigerator was used for five years before the tenant moved in, you have to deduct 50% of the original cost when determining the refund price.

Importance of Proof

Normal wear and tear and tenant-caused damage is usually what causes disagreements between landlords and tenants. To prevent this from occurring, it’s best to take photos and videos of the property before the tenant moves in.


It’s crucial for landlords to have supporting evidence of the condition of their units so they won’t be burdened with all the replacement costs.

For the tenant, it’s essential to have proof that you left the property the way it was when you moved in. This safeguards your security deposit that the landlord is holding.

Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants

To help in preventing an
altercation between landlords and tenants, outline each party’s
responsibilities. Putting this down in writing would be helpful to serve as a
reminder for each party.

Tenants are responsible for:

  • Garbage disposal gathered from their space.
  • Using facilities such as electrical, plumbing, and air conditioning properly.
  • Taking care of the premises with no destruction, damage or removal of anything without asking for the landlord’s permission.
  • Ensuring that their guests don't cause damage in the rented space.
  • Their pets (if they have any) are properly trained to avoid incidents of property damage.

Landlords are responsible for:

  • Maintaining the condition of the property to be livable.
  • Repairing the property quickly and fully.
  • Getting the property ready for the next occupants by checking, repairing, and replacing parts that are affected by the normal wear and tear left by the previous tenants.

Handling Property Damage

Landlords have the right to make deductions from the tenant’s security deposit according to the laws in Michigan. However, this is limited to tenant-caused damages made to the property and not normal wear and tear.


When determining these damages, take pictures or videos to have as proof. You should also list the cost of each repair to help come up with the final deduction to the security deposit.

Keep the statement to present it as justification for withholding a certain amount from the security deposit. It’s easier to track down the costs and expenses when you keep a record of your financial documents. Should you be questioned, you can readily show them to the tenants.

Reminders for Landlords

Keep in mind that the
longer a tenant stays in your property, the more you should expect normal wear
and tear to occur. It’s wise to budget and factor the depreciation. It’s also
vital to note that unexpected damage done to your property will cause the value
to decrease.

One way to alleviate these future problems is to conduct regular inspections. Solid maintenance will also keep your property in great shape. If there are damages caused by tenants, it should be addressed quickly. Doing so will keep the damage manageable in your Detroit, Michigan property. This will help build stronger landlord-tenant relationships with the renters.

Topics: Normal-Wear-Tear tenants detroit landlord Blog damage