Reasonable Wear and Tear Law and Legal Definition

Reasonable wear and tear is a term often found in leases to limit the tenant's responsibility to repair or repaint the premises upon leaving. In general, the longer the time of tenancy, the more wear and tear can be expected. Litigation dealing with reasonable wear and tear between landlord and tenant occurs most often when there is a deposit for any damages "beyond reasonable wear and tear." Reasonable wear and tear is generally defined as unavoidable deterioration in the dwelling and its fixtures resulting from normal use. For example, carpet wear due to normal traffic is wear and tear, while a cigarette burn is avoidable and constitutes damages.

What amounts to reasonable wear and tear must be judged bearing in mind the purposes for which the premises were leased and the nature of the tenant's business. Wear and tear can be defined to different degrees according to the state of residence. There tends to be a great deal of ambiguity and subjectivity in this area. Normal for one individual can and will be vastly different from another individuals perception of normal. When negotiating the lease, a tenant should make sure that the landlord is responsible for all structural repairs, repairs attributable to structural defects and weakness and repairs which are necessary as the result of faulty or inadequate design, workmanship or materials.