Normal wear and tear vs. property management: What’s fair

For property owners and landlords, understanding the distinction between normal wear and tear and property damage is essential. It can significantly impact the costs and responsibilities associated with maintaining and managing rental properties. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the concept of normal wear and tear, how property management handles it, and what’s considered fair when it comes to property maintenance and tenant expectations.

Defining Normal Wear and Tear

Normal wear and tear refers to the natural deterioration of a property or its components that occurs over time with ordinary use. It’s an unavoidable consequence of occupancy and aging. Examples of normal wear and tear include:

  • Faded or worn paint: Walls and surfaces may show signs of scuffing or minor discoloration over time.
  • Minor carpet wear: High-traffic areas may exhibit some wear, but it’s reasonable and expected.
  • Loose handles or knobs: Frequent use can cause some loosening of handles, doorknobs, or faucets.
  • Small nail holes: Minor holes or wall damage from hanging pictures or decorations, within reason.
  • Appliance wear: Appliances can deteriorate over time due to regular use, but this should not include significant damage.

Understanding Property Management’s Role

Property management plays a crucial role in assessing and managing normal wear and tear versus property damage. Here’s how property managers typically handle these situations:

  • Move-In and Move-Out Inspections: Property managers often conduct thorough move-in and move-out inspections to document the property’s condition before and after a tenant’s occupancy. This documentation helps determine any changes due to tenant actions.
  • Routine Maintenance: Property managers oversee routine maintenance and repairs to address normal wear and tear issues. This includes tasks like repainting walls, replacing worn-out carpets, and fixing minor wear-related problems.
  • Security Deposit Handling: Property managers often hold tenants’ security deposits to cover any damages or excessive wear and tear beyond what is considered normal. When a tenant moves out, the security deposit can be used to cover the cost of necessary repairs or replacements.

What’s Fair in Property Management

Fairness in property management requires a balanced approach that considers the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants. Here’s what’s considered fair in managing normal wear and tear:

  • Clear Lease Agreements: Lease agreements should clearly define the tenant’s responsibilities regarding property care and maintenance. This includes expectations for cleaning, reporting damages, and returning the property in good condition.
  • Routine Inspections: Conducting regular property inspections can help identify maintenance needs and address them promptly, minimizing potential disputes.
  • Transparent Communication: Maintain open and transparent communication with tenants regarding property issues. Encourage them to report wear and tear or maintenance needs promptly.
  • Security Deposit Management: Properly handle security deposits by adhering to local laws and regulations. Ensure that tenants receive an itemized list of deductions, if applicable, and return any remaining deposit promptly.
  • Documentation: Keep detailed records of property conditions before and after each tenant’s occupancy. Use photographs and written descriptions to document the property’s condition accurately.
  • Fair Deductions: When making deductions from a security deposit, ensure that they are reasonable and proportional to the damage or excessive wear and tear. Avoid using the deposit to cover routine maintenance or upgrades.


Balancing normal wear and tear with property management responsibilities is a crucial aspect of maintaining rental properties and fostering positive tenant-landlord relationships. Fairness in property management involves clear communication, transparent handling of security deposits, and the use of proper documentation to assess and address wear and tear issues accurately.

If you’re a property owner or landlord looking for expert property management services that prioritize fairness and transparency, contact Westrom Group. We specialize in managing rental properties with professionalism and integrity, ensuring that normal wear and tear is addressed fairly and efficiently.

Reach out to us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you maintain and protect your valuable investment properties. Your peace of mind begins with the right property management partner—contact us now!