Normal Wear and Tear

>> Monday, January 27, 2014

If there is a single phrase in the property management world that could literally drive me to drink, it's "that's normal wear and tear" (but you have to say it in a whiny voice in order for it to be effective.)

The thing about "normal wear and tear" is that there is too much room for interpretation.

And often, when dealing with a tenant who doesn't fall into the "normal" category themselves, things can get interesting. So, I have compiled a few lists here to help you understand what is normal wear and tear, and what is not.

And yes, these lists come from personal experience.


To have matting in the carpet, high traffic stains, or slight discoloration near windows. If you have lived there more than seven years, that is expected.

Not Normal

Spilling a bottle of bleach. That is classified as an accident. Trying to convince the manager that the stain magically appeared after you had been walking on the carpet for a few months is...well...stupid. Sorry. There is a big difference between "crap, I just dropped....bleach, my dinner, fake blood, real blood, red barf, permanent marker or any body fluids." And, "oh, I have been walking through my hallway for the last decade and now the cheap apartment carpet is warn down."


You've lived in the apartment for 3 years, and there are dark marks behind the couch, and some scuffs along the wall.

Not Normal

Your four year olds interpretation of the Mona Lisa drawn on the bedroom wall.

 Acid trip scribbles of profanity and other nonsensical phrases written on the walls.

Painting every wall in your apartment a different shade of neon. YES, I believe that you thought it was beautiful. YES, it goes well with your hair. NO, I don't think leaving it for the next tenant is an option. YES, a good paint job should not get progressively lighter as you walk across the room.


You've lived there awhile, let's say three years, and you have a FEW SMALL nail holes, or you've discovered some termite damage under the sinks, or patio.


Six giant drywall nails put in place to hang your 200 pound mirror.

Termites that trace large squares on the drywall then use a saw to haphazardly cut it out.  This is not normal wear and tear, it is however, normal for anyone wanting to install a 50 inch television.

Holes the size of your fists in the walls and doors, is not normal wear and tear, or normal for that matter.

Picking small holes in the wall while acid tripping.

Labeling your hole, while helpful, doesn't mean you wont be charged. And is also not normal on any level.


To get charged for cleaning.

Not Normal 

To receive your security deposit reconciliation in the mail, see that you have been charged for cleaning,  and NOT call the apartment manager, pissing and moaning and threatening to hire a lawyer. It appears, in my experience, to be perfectly normal to do the exact opposite.

I hope that helps.


Zach January 27, 2014 at 3:35 PM  

OMG! That cartoon is too funny.

Kim February 5, 2014 at 9:03 PM  

Seriously! Normal wear and tear is the bane of my existence.

Ginnie February 12, 2014 at 7:16 PM  

This is too funny! I can only imagine the kinds of arguments you get in with people;) P.S. I'm in your SITS Girls Tribe.

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