Ordinary Wear and Tear

“Ordinary wear and tear” is a phrase that means damage to property from regular use, which occurs naturally over time. For example, it could include faded curtains, worn carpets, and small scratches on walls or floors that happen over time with regular use and care.

However, it is possible that a lease defines the phrase “ordinary wear and tear” in a specific way for a rental unit, so it is important to know what the lease says. Always read your lease.

Tenants are not responsible for repairing or paying for ordinary wear and tear after moving out of a rental unit. After a lease ends, the landlord can deduct money from the security deposit only for the following reasons:

  • unpaid rent and fees
  • cleaning and repairs to restore the rental unit to its move-in condition, but not for ordinary wear and tear
  • expenses related to a tenant staying past the end of the lease term

Iowa Code section 562A.12. See our page on Security Deposits for more information.