What is considered to be “normal wear and tear”?

UPDATED: May 30, 2012

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What is considered to be “normal wear and tear”?

My landlord is not returning my security deposit because they had to put 2 coats of paint on the walls because I was a smoker. I lived there for 7 years. Isn’t that considered normal wear and tear?

Asked on May 30, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you had not been a smoker, repainting after 7 years would clearly be a response to normal wear and tear. If, however, you were a heavy smoker and caused a smoke smell to permeat the whole apartment, that arguably is more than normal "wear and tear"--apartments don't normally have strong smoke oders, and it would not be considered accepable to re-let it in that condition. There is no clear answer: it depends on the circumstances--how bad is the oder, for example? At certain levels, it would normal wear and tear; at excessive levels, it would not be.


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