What is “Normal Wear and Tear” in a Rental Property?

Landlord, Tenant

In most standard leases, the security deposit covers damages to the unit that exceed normal wear and tear.  In Georgia, the law states that “a landlord cannot retain a security deposit to cover normal wear and tear that occurs as a result of the tenant using the property for its intended purpose.” Understanding what is considered normal wear and tear is important to determine whether the landlord has a claim against the tenant. There are certain cases where damage to the property is severe. If repairs are necessary as a result of obvious neglect or intentional misuse by the tenant or guests of the tenant, then the landlord is generally permitted to deduct money from the security deposit.  For example, small nail holes or dents and scrapes in the wall are normal wear and tear, but large and unsightly holes are considered excessive damage.  Below are guidelines to evaluate whether the landlord has recourse against the tenant.

Maintenance. When the landlord performs routine maintenance with respect to each unit, including cleaning the apartment between tenants, he cannot deduct these charges from the tenant’s security deposit. Actions that are regarded as routine upkeep when a tenant vacates the premises is part of the landlord’s maintenance responsibilities. However, if the tenant left the unit in an excessively filthy condition and did not routinely clean, the landlord may have a claim for the extra cleaning fee.

Repairs.  Repairs that must be undertaken due to damage to the unit, which were not caused by the tenant or the tenant’s guests, are not the financial responsibility of the tenant. The tenant in general is not liable for any property damage caused by natural disasters or by third parties unaffiliated with the tenant.

Carpet. In general, if the landlord’s practice is to clean the carpet between occupancies, then the tenant should not bear this expense. However, in the event that the tenant caused unreasonable damage to the carpet, the landlord may be able to deduct the costs of the additional expense.

Painting.  The landlord may have to repaint the unit if the tenant was negligent in maintaining the walls. If the unit had not been painted in many years, then the landlord would be less likely to justify a security deposit deduction since such painting would be otherwise warranted.

The experienced team of attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C. can help you litigate your real estate claims. Contact Mark Weinstein and his colleagues at (770) 888-7707 or visit them at https://www.markweinsteinlaw.com to find out how they can advise you.

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