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Who is responsible for cleaning up the property?

Unless specifically stated in the lease, the tenant is responsible to return the property in the state in which they found it, excluding normal wear and tear.

What is normal wear and tear?

Normal wear and tear includes deterioration of the premises that occurs during normal conditions. For example, paint may fade, electrical switches may wear out and break, pull strings on blinds my fray or break, carpet and tile may wear down.

These things happen even if the tenant cleans regularly and cares for the premises reasonably. Damage occurs from unreasonable use or accidents. Damage can include extreme build up of dirt, mold, etc., stains on carpets, and broken windows. Even intentional alterations to the premises are considered damage. For example, the tenant cannot leave large holes in the walls from shelving or hanging pictures, and cannot repaint the walls to significantly change the color. If a tenant wants to make changes to the premises that will remain after the tenant moves out, the tenant should do so only with the landlord's written permission.

The parties can, and in some states must, take steps to avoid disputes over damage. At the beginning of the lease term, the tenant should inspect the premises thoroughly and note all problems in writing on a check in/check out form. Both the tenant and the landlord should sign and date the list. At the end of the lease, the tenant should again inspect the premises with the landlord present, discuss any damage with the landlord, and check any problems found against the move in check list. The landlord is not required to be present to do a walkthrough together with the tenant.

The following , but by no means comprehensive, list is intended as a guide to reasonable interpretation of the differences between expected wear and tear from normal residential use and irresponsible or intentional actions that cause damage to a landlord's property.

Wear & Tear

Damages

Worn out keys

Lost keys

Loose or stubborn door lock

Broken or missing locks

Loose hinges or handles on doors

Damage to a door from forced entry

Worn and dirty carpeting

Torn, stained or burned carpeting

Carpet seam unglued

Rust or oil stains on carpet

Scuffed up wood floors

Badly scratched or gouged wood floors

Linoleum worn thin

Linoleum with tears or holes

Worn countertop

Burns and cuts in countertop

Stain on ceiling from rain or bad plumbing

Stain on ceiling from overflowed tub

Plaster cracks from settling

Holes in walls from kids or carelessness

Faded, chipped or cracked paint

Unapproved (bad) tenant paint job

Loose wallpaper

Ripped or marked-up wallpaper

Balky drapery rod

Broken drapery rod

Faded curtains and drapes

Torn or missing curtains and drapes

Heat blistered blinds

Blinds with bent slats

Dirty window or door screens

Torn or missing screens

Sticky window

Broken window

Loose or inoperable faucet handle

Broken or missing faucet handle

Toilet runs or wobbles

Broken toilet seat or tank top

Urine odor around toilet

Urine or pet odor throughout unit

Closet bi-fold door off track

Damaged or missing bi-fold door

 

This wear and tear information was obtained from Rental Housing On Line, the Internet's most comprehensive landlord/tenant rental housing site, with information, law, forms, forums, live chat and vacancy listing service.

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