Definition of Normal Wear and Tear Under California Security Deposit Law

Although California law does not define "normal wear and tear," it is up to the landlord's discretion as to how much of the security deposit to return to the tenant at the end of the lease or upon early termination of the rental agreement. The California Apartment Association (CAA) does provide guidelines for security deposit deductions, advising landlords to overlook wear on carpets, peeling or worn paint, sun damaged window treatments, loose or missing grout, rusty fixtures in the kitchen or bathroom, and discolored or faded kitchen and bathroom linoleum.

California Security Deposit Law

The CAA also provides examples of damage that may warrant the retention of all or part of the tenant's security deposit. Damage in excess of normal wear and tear includes missing or broken window treatments, torn drapes and blinds, missing or broken appliances, water damage caused by tenant possessions, major carpet stains, and holes in walls and doors. If any of the window treatments you provided in the rental property are excessively damaged, you are within your rights to withhold portion of the security deposit to purchase new window coverings for the San Jose property.

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