It is generally understood that wear and tear are inevitable in a rental unit. However, the challenge lies in distinguishing between normal wear and tear and damage.

In this blog, we’ll delve into the difference between these two and explore some examples of both.


Defining Normal Wear and Tear:


Most lease agreements highlight the expectation of normal wear and tear, acknowledging that minor damages resulting from everyday use are inevitable and acceptable. Normal wear and tear typically refers to damage that is minor, doesn’t affect the unit’s livability, and is caused by reasonable usage.


Differentiating Normal Wear and Tear from Damage:


Differentiating between normal wear and tear and damage can be challenging, often leading to disputes. Landlords are usually responsible for proving damage initially, while tenants have the opportunity to demonstrate that the issues either preexisted or are within the realm of normal use. Clear communication and documentation are crucial to resolving such disputes.



Utilizing Lease Agreements:


Lease agreements play a vital role in setting expectations. Before moving in, tenants should complete a report inspecting the conditions, documenting any pre-existing damage. Landlords can enhance clarity by including a lease addendum specifying acceptable wear and tear levels and outlining steps to resolve disputes.


Examples of Normal Wear and Tear vs. Damage:


While each case is unique, some general examples can help distinguish between normal wear and tear and damage:


  • Wear & Tear

Under usual wear and tear within a property, observable signs are often characterized by the gradual effects of daily living. Floors may bear scuff marks, indicative of regular foot traffic, while paint on walls may show natural fading or occasional chips. 

Taps and faucets, over time, may become slightly loose, and windows may accumulate a layer of dirt that reflects the passage of seasons. Aging doorframes may exhibit minor cracks, and carpets, a common element susceptible to daily use, may reveal signs of wear such as thinning or slight discoloration.


  • Damage

On the other side of things, indications of damage to a property go beyond the typical wear associated with regular use. Broken or missing blinds suggest a more immediate need for attention. Appliances that are visibly damaged or non-functional indicate potential issues requiring repair or replacement. Stains, burns, or noticeable scratches on carpets or floors signify a level of damage that extends beyond normal wear. 

Kitchen counters marred by significant scratches or burns may require repair. Large holes in walls and drastic alterations to paint or wallpaper without prior discussion with the property manager are clear signs of damage that necessitate investigation. These distinctions help in distinguishing routine wear and tear from more substantial issues that may impact the property’s condition.




By documenting the condition of the unit before the tenancy begins and including detailed clauses in the lease agreement, both landlords and tenants can minimize conflicts and maintain a positive rental experience. 

Regular communication and a proactive approach to addressing wear and tear can foster a healthy landlord-tenant relationship, ensuring a smooth transition during move-out inspections.