What does "normal wear and tear mean" at the end of a lease?
September 19, 2005 7:58 PM Subscribe
Please help us figure out if our previous landlord is bending the law.
posted by sequential to home & garden (28 answers total)
In July, we gave her ample notice that we were moving out. At that time, we asked her for the name of the paint that she used so that we could touch up some areas that were marked by fabric. She agreed to this solution, but in the remaing 45 days of the lease never returned our phone calls.
Please keep in mind that we never had visitors stay for more than a couple of hours, never had anything that would resemble a party and were nothing more than model tenants during our lease.
In an effort to help her turn over the unit, we also steam cleaned the 100 or so square feet of cream colored Berber carpet, patched the ten or so nail holes we made and cleaned the entire unit very thoroughly. (The whole unit has approximately 500 sqare feet of space. It took us three full days to clean it to our satisfaction after we emptied the unit.)
When the unit was emptied, we noticed there were small scratches in the soft maple floor. Distressed by this development, we went over the list of precautions we had taken to prevent such scratches: rubber feet under all furniture, carpets under much of the furniture, regular and thorough cleaning to prevent build up and care when on the wood floor. Of the several hundred square feet of wood flooring, there were just a few square feet that had any marks and just a fraction of that was noticeable without getting down on your hands and knees.
After 19 days of not hearing from her since we moved out, we took it upon ourselves to call her. From the get go, she was on the offensive. She claimed the rugs was filthy beyong her imagination and it cost her $100 to have it cleaned. The walls were so badly damaged in her estimation that she had to repaint the entire unit. Lastly, she is having the entire floor refinished. In her own words, "When you rent an apartment, it is your obligation to leave the apartment in the exact condition it was in when you rent it."
To be clear, the unit was finished the day before we moved in. There were no previous tenants. She cut many corners in the unit, which I believe predetermined where the damage was found. The paint, for example, is cheap, matte paint that scuffs if you brush up against it with a black t-shirt on. The cream Berber carpet, while not cheap, is just begging for trouble. Lastly, the soft maple is not floor grade, from what I gather. Furthermore, it was not urethaned or covered in any protective coat. It was simply sanded and polished.
I'm not asking for your legal opinion. We have a lawyer for that. Instead, I hope to gauge her reaction through the lense of your experience. Is my landlord just trying to protect her investment or does she fundamentally misunderstand the notion of "normal wear and tear".