Filed Under (Leases and Landlord Tenant) on 10-27-2011
“Normal wear and tear” is one of those fuzzy legal terms that begs for clarification.
When it comes to security deposits, Colorado landlords can keep money for repairs, cleaning, unpaid utility charges at the end of a tenancy, and even back rent and other expenses if a tenant moves out unexpectedly. But landlords are NOT allowed to deduct money for normal wear and tear of the property.
The problem is what one landlord calls rock star level damage, a tenant considers as normal wear and tear.
Colorado law defines normal wear and tear as “that deterioration which occurs, based upon the use for which the rental unit is intended, without negligence, carelessness, accident, or abuse of the premises or equipment or chattels by the tenant or members of his household, or their invitees or guests.”
Since the legal definition doesn’t offer much guidance, here’s another way to think of normal wear and tear: Consider it the reasonable amount of wear that a given appliance, household item, or piece of furnishing should incur for every year of its useful life. (A useful life is how long you can expect something to live or work.)
So, if a carpet’s useful life is 10 years, then every year, it should deteriorate about 1/10th. One place you can find such information is an advisory guide to useful life, found on the city of Longmont’s web site and republished below:
Item Lifespan Item Lifespan
|Carpeting||10 years||Door and window hardware||15 years|
|Bathroom flooring||12 years||Stove, cooking range||12 years|
|Kitchen flooring||12 years||Hot water heater||10 years|
|Curtains||5 years||Bathroom sink||17 years|
|Drapes||10 years||Kitchen cabinets||15 years|
|Curtain rods||8 years||Kitchen sink||17 years|
|Interior doors||20 years||Garbage disposal||5 years|
You can also find useful life information from product manufacturers. (Such projections likely assume the appliances and household furnishing are regularly maintained and/or cleaned.)
Still confused? The city of Longmont provides this framework for weighing normal wear and tear vs. abnormal use.
Normal Wear and Tear Abnormal Wear and Tear
Worn and dirty carpet Torn, stained, or burned carpet
Faded curtains Torn or missing curtains
Worn out keys Lost keys
Dirty window screens Torn or missing screens
Faded, chipped paint Hole in the wall
For more information, see the Landlord & Tenant Guide to Colorado Leases and Evictions, 5th Edition, by Victor M. Grimm, Esq. and Denise E. Grimm.
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