What Exactly is “Normal Wear and Tear”?

As an investor venturing into property leasing, you should know that the condition of your property will not be the same before and after tenancy. The curtains and carpets might appear worn, there might be scuff marks on the floor and walls and a window pane may be slightly warped.

So, what constitutes ‘normal’ wear and tear, and what can be regarded as property damage and deducted from the security deposit? All Manitoba landlords should be aware of the difference, as it could save you money, time, and legal troubles.

In this article, we here at Pillar Property Management will provide some key things to know about normal wear and tear.

What is “Normal Wear and Tear”?

wear and tear manitoba

The accurate definition of what counts as normal wear and tear can vary depending on where your rental property is located. However, an agreed upon definition can be derived from the intended use of the rental property.

Basically, normal wear and tear is the result of the tenant using the rental unit for its intended purpose.

Another possible definition can be found in the Merriam Webster dictionary. Wear and tear is defined as the loss to which an asset is subjected to through normal use.

In terms of rental units, normal wear and tear is an inevitable occurrence as the tenant occupies the rented premises. The term is synonymous with ‘normal depreciation.’

From these descriptions, it should be clear that a tenant isn't responsible to cover damages that result from normal use of the property.

Normal Wear and Tear vs. Property Damage

We at Pillar Property Management know that without the experience and industry knowledge, it may be difficult for individual landlords to know the difference every time. To ease the burden on your shoulders, our experienced team has provided comparative examples below:

Examples of Normal Wear and Tear

  • Faded wallpaper or paint
  • Scuffed wooden floors
  • Scratched and worn out enamel in toilets, sinks or bathtubs
  • Warped and stuck cabinet doors and wardrobes
  • Worn out or faded carpets
  • Small nail holes, dents, and chips in the walls
  • Worn out appliances due to regular use

Examples of Property Damage

property damage manitoba

  • Broken windows and mirrors
  • Unprofessional and unapproved paint jobs and wallpapers
  • Large holes in the wall or floors
  • Burns or stains in the carpet
  • Stains and burns on the floor
  • Cracked or missing floor tiles
  • Broken cabinet doors and wardrobes
  • Damaged appliances that show signs of neglect or abuse

The Importance of a Move-In and Move-Out Inspection

Sometimes a tenant will seek to contest (not necessarily in court) damages to the property. To protect your rental investment, Pillar Property Management recommends that you implement move-in and move-out inspections.

On the move-in day, carry out an inspection of every room of the property with your new tenant. Take good, high-resolution photos of each room, highlighting any amenities and features that may be contested later on. Have the tenant sign an inspection report that confirms the condition of the property.

These documents will justify deductions that you make to the security deposit upon expiry of the lease. Even if the tenant chooses to contest your deductions, you can use these photos and the inspection report to defend your deductions.

When it comes to matters prescribed by the landlord-tenant law, it's better to be safe than sorry.

rental condition report

Routine Maintenance

Before a new tenant moves in, you'll need to perform some maintenance on the property. This is considered routine. There are some issues here that can be deducted from the tenant’s deposit.

Most landlords choose to have their rental premises professionally cleaned by a service company. This cannot be charged to the previous tenant, unless they left your rental in a terribly disorganized state.

You can charge a tenant for stains and burns on the carpets and curtains. If anything is damaged beyond repair, the previous tenant can be charged the cost of acquiring a new one.

Painting of the property falls under routine maintenance. As the landlord, you're not allowed to deduct the cost of repainting from the security deposit. This may not be true, however, if the tenant did a sloppy paint job without your permission.

Frequently Asked Questions on ‘Normal’ Wear and Tear

Who is the Final ‘Authority’ on What is ‘Normal’ Damage?

Before you make any deductions from your tenant’s security deposit, we recommend that you read the current landlord-tenant laws. The provisions therein serve as a reference point on the damage list and repair costs.

Are Holes in the Walls Categorized as Normal Wear and Tear?

It depends on the size of the hole. Pin-sized holes are considered normal. The exception is when the holes have caused extensive damage that need repair from the outside.

Can a Tenant Contest a Repair Charge or Security Deposit Deduction?

Tenants can request to have their security deposit returned with their Residential Tenancy Branch. To avoid such a scenario, we recommend that each landlord keeps meticulous record of the move-in and –out process, and adhere to the provisions on what is ‘normal’ wear and tear.


The intricacies of property management can be draining, strenuous and frustrating. Without the necessary skills and experience, your property's needs and tenants’ demands can nullify the benefits of renting out a property.

Unburden yourself by hiring the number one property management company in Winnipeg!

Pillar Property Management is an established service provider with the experience and capacity to handle all of your property needs. With us as your partner, we guarantee to help you realize the full potential of your investment in rental property.

Get in touch with us today and receive a quote for our property management services!

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