RentLife Property Management

Written by Mark Kallus, Owner & Broker

RentLife® Property Management

Houston’s Local Property Management Experts

Wear and Tear vs. Damages

Security deposits can be used to repair damage for which a resident is responsible.  However, the landlord cannot apply the security deposit to normal wear and tear.  The question is: “What’s the difference?”


The legal definition of “normal wear and tear” as stated in the Texas Property Code Title 8. Landlord and Tenant, Chapter 92. Residential Tenancies, Subchapter A. General Provisions:

“Normal wear and tear” means deterioration that results from the intended use of a dwelling, including, for the purposes of Subchapters B and D, breakage or malfunction due to age or deteriorated condition, but the term does not include deterioration that results from negligence, carelessness, accident, or abuse of the premises, equipment, or chattels by the tenant, by a member of the tenant’s household, or by a guest or invitee of the tenant.

Damage can be defined as deterioration, which occurs due to negligence, carelessness, accident, or abuse of the premises or equipment or chattels by the tenant or member of his household or their invitees or guests.

Notice that normal wear and tear does not include dirt – excessive dirt is considered negligence, carelessness, accident, or abuse.

The following incomplete list of examples is intended as a guide to a reasonable interpretation of the differences between expected ‘wear and tear’ from normal residential use and irresponsible, intentional, or unintentional actions that cause damage to a landlord’s property.

Courts have also ruled that the length of time a tenant has occupied a property must also be taken into consideration when accessing damages; therefore, deductions to a tenant’s security deposit.  The longer a resident has resided in a property, the more allowance must be given for ‘wear and tear’ over the damage.

Wear and Tear Damages
  1. Small nail holes caused by a 6 penny nail or smaller.  A 6 penny nail is 2 inches long and is used for hanging picture frames and other items on walls
Large holes from hanging shelving, pictures, screws, wall anchors, flat-screen television brackets or any other wall hanging that cause damage larger than a 6 penny nail
  1. Faded paint
Spot painting and patching or touch up painting of any kind
  1. Faded caulking around the bathtub and tiles
Missing caulking around the bathtub and tiles
  1. Hard water deposits.
The buildup of dirt, mold, mildew, or water stains from a preventable or unreported water leak or drip
  1. Worn out keys
Broken, lost or unreturned keys
  1. Loose or stubborn door lock
Broken or missing locks
  1. Loose hinges or handles on doors
Damage from a door from forced entry, or damage from using feet to open doors
  1. Worn carpet traffic patterns
Torn, burned, stained, missing, ripped, scratched, or snagged carpet, pet damage
  1. The faded finish on wood floors
Scratched, gouged, warped or water damaged wood floors
  1. Linoleum has worn thin
Linoleum with tears, chips or holes
  1. Worn countertops due to daily use
Burned, cut, stained, scratched or water damaged countertops
  1. Drywall cracks from settling
Holes in walls, doors, screens or windows from misuse, negligence, carelessness, accident, or abuse
  1. Faded, chipped or cracked paint
The unapproved or poor tenant paint job
  1. Loose wallpaper
Ripped or marked-up wallpaper
  1. Worn or heat blistered mini-blinds
Broken, bent, cracked, or missing slats, wands or hardware. Broken strings.
  1. Dirty window and door screens
Torn or missing screens
  1. Sticky window
Broken window
  1. The loose or inoperable faucet handle
The broken or missing faucet handle
  1. Running toilet
Broken toilet seat, tank top or chipped or cracked toilet bowl
  1. Musty odor
Urine or pet odor throughout the unit
  1. Closet bi-fold door off track
Damaged or missing bi-fold door
  1. Non-functioning smoke or CO detector
A missing or detached smoke detector or CO detector or missing batteries
  1. Non-functioning light fixture
Missing, burnt out, or incorrect style light bulbs
  1. Dry lawn
Lawn with pet urine spots, dead areas,

excessive weeds

  1. Non-functioning light fixture
Missing, burnt out, or incorrect style light bulbs
  1. Dry lawn
Lawn with pet urine spots, dead areas,

excessive weeds

  1. Slow draining drains
Drains that are clogged by hair, toys, or other non-flushable objects