This document is meant to provide a general overview of the difference between wear and tear vs damage when doing a security deposit return.

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 Colorado Real Estate Commission manual and defined in Section 38-12-102, C.R.S:

“Normal wear and tear means 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.”

Damage can therefore 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.

The following is a list of examples and is intended as a guide to 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 per Appendix 5C of the HUD guidelines.

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

Wear and Tear
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
2. Faded paint
3. Faded caulking around the bathtub and tiles
4. Hard water deposits.
5. Worn out keys
6. Loose or stubborn door lock
7. Loose hinges or handles on doors
8. Worn carpet traffic patterns
9. Faded finish on wood floors
10. Linoleum worn thin
11. Worn countertops due to daily use
12. Drywall cracks from settling
13. Faded, chipped or cracked paint
14. Loose wallpaper
15. Worn or heat blistered mini-blinds
16. Dirty window and door screens
17. Sticky window
18. Loose or inoperable faucet handle
19. Running toilet
20. Musty odor
21. Closet bi-fold door off track
22. Non-functioning smoke or CO detector
23. Non-functioning light fixture
24. Dry lawn
25. Non-functioning light fixture
26. Dry lawn
27. Slow draining drains
Large holes from hanging shelving, pictures, screws, wall anchors, flat screen television brackets or any other wall hanging that causes damage larger than a 6 penny nail
Spot painting and patching or touch up painting of any kind
Missing caulking around the bathtub and tiles
Buildup of dirt, mold, mildew, or water stains from a preventable or unreported water leak or drip
Broken, lost or unreturned keys
Broken or missing locks
Damage from a door from forced entry, or damage from using feet to open doors
Torn, burned, stained, missing, ripped, scratched, or snagged carpet, pet damage
Scratched, gouged, warped or water damaged wood floors
Linoleum with tears, chips or holes
Burned, cut, stained, scratched or water damaged countertops
Holes in walls, doors, screens or windows from misuse, negligence, carelessness, accident, or abuse
Unapproved or poor tenant paint job
Ripped or marked-up wallpaper
Broken, bent, cracked or missing slats, wands or hardware. Broken strings.
Torn or missing screens
Broken window
Broken or missing faucet handle
Broken toilet seat, tank top or chipped or cracked toilet bowl
Urine or pet odor throughout unit
Damaged or missing bi-fold door
Missing or detached smoke detector or CO detector or missing batteries
Missing, burnt out, or incorrect style light bulbs
Lawn with pet urine spots, dead areas, excessive weeds
Missing, burnt out, or incorrect style light bulbs
Lawn with pet urine spots, dead areas, excessive weeds
Drains that are clogged by hair, toys, or other non-flushable objects

For more information or help, contact Pioneer Property Management at 720-839-7482