reasonable wear and tear

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Reasonable wear and tear is the damage to property resulting from ordinary use and exposure over time. Also referred to as ordinary wear and tear or natural wear and tear. The term is commonly used in landlord-tenant law to limit the tenant's liability for damage to the property. New York case law, to illustrate, has established the following as falling within ordinary wear and tear: repairing damage to bathroom tiles (Strafaci v. Meadowbrook Pointe Dev.  Corp.); clean-up including professional carpet cleaning, window washing, and interior painting (James Bohl, CPA, P.C. v. Poffenbarger); and garbage left under an oven, stains in the tub and sink, leftover food in the refrigerator, dog hair throughout the apartment, garbage on the back porch and dirty windows and ceiling fans (Hamilton v. Bosko). New York state examples of damage that exceeds ordinary wear and tear can be an offensive and excessive tobacco odor as a result of tenant’s smoking in the property (McCormick v. Moran) or having to repair holes in the wall and hire an exterminator to remove fleas (Chill Venture v. Stahl). The court in Camacho v. Paduch constructed New York’s security deposit law to only allow the landlord to deduct money from the tenant’s security deposit if the damage exceeds reasonable wear and tear.

[Last updated in December of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]