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Normal Wear and Tear vs Property Damage

When it comes to the end of a lease, one of the most sensitive matters which needs to be discussed by the property manager and the exiting tenant is the security deposit. This money is paid into an escrow account at the start of the lease agreement to safeguard against possible property damage during the term of occupancy. The debate, however, is identifying what constitutes normal wear and tear and what constitutes property damage. Normal wear and tear does not count against the security deposit, but part of the security deposit can be used to pay for property damage.

A good Anne Arundel County or Queen Anne's County property management company makes sure that the assessment of the condition of the property at the end of any lease is done in a fair manner. There are two sides to balance here: you want to make sure that the property owner’s investment is protected, but a property manager must abide by any state laws involving the unlawful seizure of the security deposit without just cause.

Basically, normal wear and tear is generally accepted as insignificant damage which occurs as a result of day-to-day occupancy with reasonable care and caution. Below are some examples:


Even with adequate maintenance and cleaning, the flooring will inevitably take a beating in any rented property. Light stains, shoe marks, and scratches are only to be expected for some surfaces like carpets, parquet, tile, etc. However, heavily stained and chipped flooring as well as carpets that smell strongly of pet urine is considered property damage.


For walls, minor marks and scuffs that could be covered up with a touch up here and there falls under normal wear and tear. Anything that changes the condition of the wall itself and not just its surface such as large nail holes, sheet rock anchors, gouges, and dents as well as obvious markings like markers, crayons or paint are filed under property damage.

Tiles and Hardware

When it comes to things such as door knobs, appliances, tiling, or furniture, the call between wear and tear versus damage is really a case-to-case basis. The best way to make this call is to consider the state of the item at the time of the move-in. For example, if the tiles were already old and worn when the tenant moved in, then some cracking would be normal. However, for newly-installed tiles, this should not be the case.

Pet Damage

Leasing a property to pet owners allows for a certain amount of extra wear and tear such as additional traffic patterns in carpeting. After all, technically speaking, a lease agreement which does not ban pets from living on the premises indirectly recognizes domestic animals are occupants too and assumes there will be some additional wear and tear as a result. However, if the lease definitively states a no-pets policy, then any damage made by pets, even wear and tear, could be considered property damage.

Thoroughly documenting the state of the Anne Arundel County or Queen Anne's County property before the move-in is important to minimize disagreements over the security deposit. A good property manager knows, taking numerous detailed pictures and video is one of the best ways to do this, so that before and after comparisons can be easily made. To lease more about how the Wright Property Management Group, LLC conducts inspections, please visit the Owners page of our website.

About Wright Property Managemenet Group, LLC

Our business is to provide our clients with management solutions that help their residential single family, multifamily, townhouses, condos and apartments operate smoothly, increase in desirability and enhance investment value. That's why property owners and investors who reside locally, nationally and internationally depend on Wright Property Management Group, LLC to help achieve their property performance and profitability goals. From Tenant Placement Service to Full Property Management we ensure that our Anne Aurndel County and Queen Anne's County client's investment is well managed to attract and retain tenants.

We proudly serve all of Anne Arundel Couty and Queen Anne's County Maryland including: Annapolis, West Annapolis, Historic Annapolis, Eastport, Annapolis Roads, Bay ridge, Hillsmere, Thomas Point, Arundel On The Bay, Wardour, Crofton, Homewood, Murray Hill, Bestgate, Severna Park, Easton, Centerville, Laurel, Bowie, Admiral Heights, St. Margarets, Camebridge, Cape Saint Claire, Arnold, Preston, Cownsville, Sherwood Forest, The Downs, Epping Forest, Chestertown, Riva, Edgewater and more...


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