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What constitutes reasonable wear and tear vs damage?

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What constitutes reasonable wear and tear vs damage?

Postby murmal » Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:03 pm

Long story short: we rented a home for about 11 years, took pics before we moved in, took pics after we moved out, cleaned everything, spackled and painted every hole, cleaned the oven (a few years old and had some stuff still left at the front of the oven and at the edge of the oven door after cleaning but the rest of the oven is absolutely clean), etc. It's an old house and the landlord let a lot of stuff go. Now our former landlord is claiming we "damaged" a bunch of stuff, some of which we can prove was there when we moved in (thank you pictures!), some of which seems ridiculous (a leak behind the 10 year-old washing machine which we didn't know about but apparently they "found" because they pulled out the washing machine??), the "dirty" oven, a part of the floor they claimed we scratched up (which again, pictures will prove is either not badly scratched or not scratched at all). All of the things they're claiming damage seems like reasonable wear and tear to me, but I've searched for some sort of discussion about what is reasonable and what is damage and haven't found anything. I'm feeling fairly pissed off about this; we were very good tenants, kept things up, made sure things were totally done properly when we moved out, and now this.

Is what I described considered "reasonable?" Like some scratches on an old floor seem reasonable, but gouges out of the floor, for instance, would seem like damage. And water damage from a faucet left on for days would seem like damage, but water damage from a leak behind a washing machine that was never big enough to cause us to see any water leaking anywhere would seem morel like reasonable wear and tear.

Does anyone know what constitutes reasonable wear and tear and what constitutes actual damage?
murmal
 
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Re: What constitutes reasonable wear and tear vs damage?

Postby TenantNet » Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:30 pm

Pictures are great, but a walk-through can prevent LL nonsense, at least some of it.

The term "wear and tear" can be elusive. I don't know if there's a legal definition, but I have generally heard that it refers to the wear an item receives over time when it is used in manner for which it is intended.

For example, carpets wear out over time because people walk in traffic patterns defined by the placement of furniture. Rooms need to be painted periodically. Even minor nail holes - for pictures, in my view, should be normal wear and tear.

Some things are accidents. The kid down the block threw a baseball and somehow it landed on your window.

Some things are acts of God or nature, i.e., storm damage.

But if you ride your all-terrain vehicle on your living room carpet, well that is not how it is intended. That would be damages.

If you use your home clothes washer 30 times a day - renting it out as a laundromat, well that is beyond the appliance's normal "duty cycle."

So you have to see what they are describing as damage. In many cases LLs will make damages a moving target ... they claim one thing, you prove it's false and then they add something else. Make sure they put everything down on paper, and make sure they prove it with photos.

I don't believe they can claim something that is normally hidden, like behind the washing machine.

Whatever their game, do not let them drive the narrative. If they are withholding you security deposit, you can choose between going to small claims court or to the attorney general.
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Re: What constitutes reasonable wear and tear vs damage?

Postby murmal » Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:34 pm

Thank you! The landlord emailed us with a list of the "damage" with pics they took, which I guess is in our favor because now we have a list to dispute in court, should it come to that.

One more question, if you don't mind: would a landlord be required to pay triple for a security deposit they kept for damages that were later found to be reasonable? wear and tear in court? And would this apply if the landlord only kept part of the deposit?
murmal
 
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Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2006 3:23 pm

Re: What constitutes reasonable wear and tear vs damage?

Postby TenantNet » Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:41 pm

Don't let the LL list become a moving target. Make sure the list is frozen.

Are they withholding your deposit? If so, then you'e on the hook to take action. Otherwise, they need to sue you. This is why some tenants hold back on rent for the last month, due to this type of LL behavior.

Triple damages for bogus deposit claims? Never heard of that.
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Re: What constitutes reasonable wear and tear vs damage?

Postby murmal » Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:06 pm

They kept some of our deposit and returned the rest. How do I freeze the list?
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