Can a Landlord charge a Tenant for ordinary wear and tear?

In Pennsylvania, when your lease expires, it’s important to provide your landlord with your forwarding address so they can send you a list of damages within 30 days as they are required to do by law if a forwarding address is provided. If a forwarding address is provided and a landlord does not submit a written list of damages within 30 days, the landlord gives up its right to withhold any portion of the security deposit and will be liable for double the amount of the security deposit.

The next issue is what a landlord can and cannot deduct in PA from the security deposit for repairs. A landlord can charge tenants for cleaning and repairs to restore the rental unit to its original condition at the beginning of the tenancy. However, a landlord cannot charge a tenant for ordinary wear and tear.

For example, if there is a modest amount of dirt on the carpet, the landlord cannot replace the carpet and bill the tenant for it because that would be considered ordinary wear and tear which is the landlord’s responsibility. However, if there are cigarette burns in the carpet, that is considered excessive wear and tear which would be the tenant’s responsibility. Issues regarding carpet cleaning should be addressed in the lease. Before moving in and out of the property, it’s advisable to take pictures of the property should any disputes arise.

Another example would be repainting. If the paint has faded and the landlord repaints the apartment, the landlord cannot charge the tenant for repainting if it is ordinary wear and tear. However, if the apartment has to be repainted because of the tenant’s fault (water damage, excessive holes, dirt stains), the landlord can deduct those fees from the security deposit.

If your landlord is trying to charge you for items that should be considered ordinary wear and tear, please contact me for a free consultation by calling (484) 362-9286.

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