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What is considered 'normal wear and tear'?

If you rent property, you likely signed a lease and put a deposit down in order to do so. In that lease, you may have noticed language stating that a landlord can keep portions of the security deposit to cover repairs and damage outside of normal wear and tear.

In accordance with Texas laws, expenses related to normal wear and tear cannot be deducted from your security deposit. This distinction is critical, and whether you are a landlord or a tenant, you should understand what is and is not generally considered normal wear and tear.

Normal wear and tear includes:

  • Dustiness
  • Dirty blinds
  • Small pin holes in the wall (unless they are excessive)
  • Worn out batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Fading in curtains, paint or wallpaper due to age or sun exposure
  • Broken light bulbs
  • Normal dirty and wear in carpets
  • Plumbing issues arising from normal use

Things that may not be considered normal wear and tear include:

  • Numerous or sizeable holes in the wall
  • Appliances broken as a result of misuse
  • Unapproved paint on the walls
  • Excessive dirtiness in bathroom or kitchen
  • Pest infestation
  • Broken doors or disabled locks
  • Pet stains, burns or holes in carpet

Essentially, damage caused by neglect, misuse or excessive force can fall outside the definition of normal wear and tear. 

Tenants and landlords often disagree when it comes to distinguishing what is and is not normal in terms of wear and tear. However, you don't have to just go off of what your landlord tells you if you are a tenant. You have the option of discussing the situation with an attorney who can examine the details of the case and the property in question in a legal context.

If you have questions or concerns about your security deposit and any amount withheld by your landlord, you can consult an attorney who can explain your legal rights and options. If money was wrongfully deducted, you can take action to have that money returned to you.

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