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January 2018 Legal Tidbit

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Question: What does “normal wear and tear” mean?

Answer: Colorado law defines "normal wear and tear" as “that deterioration which occurs… without negligence, carelessness, accident, or abuse of the premises…” The longer that a tenant has been living in the rental unit, the more likely that a court will find that incidental damage is "normal." While there will be no question that a red wine stain in carpet or a large hole in drywall is beyond "normal wear and tear," traffic patterns in carpet, scuff marks on walls, and dings in walls may very likely be viewed as “normal,” particularly if the tenant has been living there a long time or has children and/or pets. Keep in mind that if the expected useful life of paint and carpet in the rental unit has passed, then courts will be unwilling to tax the tenant for any of the costs of new paint or carpet. Since “normal wear and tear” is a subjective judgment by the courts and the statutory consequence of an adverse ruling can be treble damages against the landlord, be conservative in charging your tenant to restore your rental unit.

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