What constitutes ordinary wear and tear in relation to a lease agreement?
You should carefully read your lease agreement to determine what standards will be used to determine the condition of the rental property at the termination of the lease. In Indiana, parties may contractually define what constitutes 'ordinary wear and tear.'
The applicable Indiana statutes are as follows:
(a) As used in this chapter, "security deposit" means a deposit
paid by a tenant to the landlord or the landlord's agent to be held for all
or a part of the term of the rental agreement to secure performance of any
obligation of the tenant under the rental agreement.
(b) The term includes:
(1) a required prepayment of rent other than the first full rental
payment period of the lease agreement;
(2) a sum required to be paid as rent in any rental period in excess of
the average rent for the term; and
(3) any other amount of money or property returnable to the tenant on
condition of return of the rental unit by the tenant in a condition as
required by the rental agreement.
(c) The term does not include the following:
(1) An amount paid for an option to purchase under a lease with option to
purchase, unless it is shown that the intent was to evade this chapter.
(2) An amount paid as a subscription for or purchase of a membership in a
cooperative housing association incorporated under Indiana law.
(a) Upon termination of a rental agreement, a landlord shall
return to the tenant the security deposit minus any amount applied to:
(1) the payment of accrued rent;
(2) the amount of damages that the landlord has suffered or will
reasonably suffer by reason of the tenant's noncompliance with law or the
rental agreement; and
(3) unpaid utility or sewer charges that the tenant is obligated to pay
under the rental agreement;
all as itemized by the landlord with the amount due in a written notice
that is delivered to the tenant not more than forty-five (45) days after
termination of the rental agreement and delivery of possession. The
landlord is not liable under this chapter until the tenant supplies the
landlord in writing with a mailing address to which to deliver the notice
and amount prescribed by this subsection. Unless otherwise agreed, a tenant
is not entitled to apply a security deposit to rent.
(b) If a landlord fails to comply with subsection (a), a tenant may
recover all of the security deposit due the tenant and reasonable
(c) This section does not preclude the landlord or tenant from recovering
other damages to which either is entitled.
(d) The owner of the dwelling unit at the time of the termination of the
rental agreement is bound by this section.
A security deposit may be used only for the following purposes:
(1) To reimburse the landlord for actual damages to the rental unit or
any ancillary facility that are not the result of ordinary wear and tear.
(2) To pay the landlord for:
(A) all rent in arrearage under the rental agreement; and
(B) rent due for premature termination of the rental agreement by the
(3) To pay for the last payment period of a residential rental agreement
if a written agreement between the landlord and the tenant stipulates that
the security deposit will serve as the last payment of rent due.
(4) To reimburse the landlord for utility or sewer charges paid by the
landlord that are:
(A) the obligation of the tenant under the rental agreement; and
(B) unpaid by the tenant.
Not more than forty-five (45) days after the termination of
occupancy, a landlord shall mail to a tenant an itemized list of damages
claimed for which the security deposit may be used under section 13 of this
chapter. The list must set forth:
(1) the estimated cost of repair for each damaged item; and
(2) the amounts and lease on which the landlord intends to assess the
The landlord shall include with the list a check or money order for the
difference between the damages claimed and the amount of the security
deposit held by the landlord.
At the termination of a tenant's occupancy, the tenant shall
deliver the rental premises to the landlord in a clean and proper
condition, excepting ordinary wear and tear expected in the normal course
of habitation of a dwelling unit.