Real Estate Law
Ask a Real Estate Law Question, Get an Answer ASAP!
California Civil Code Section 1950.5(b) prohibits a landlord from making security deposit deductions for cleaning or making repairs "caused by normal wear and tear." There is no statutory definition of wear and tear. but the courts define it as “normal usage”. Wear and tear is often used to describe worn carpets and flooring, and painting on walls. For example, some cases have stated that two or three years is the normal lifespan for a coat of paint, and tenants may only be charged accordingly. Thus, if a tenant has lived in the residence for longer than two or three years they may not be charged for painting.
I found the information on paint and am curious if the same would be true for floors. Where can I find the "normal lifespan for floors" and is it reasonable for them to charge me to totally redo the floors or is a certain percentage their responsibility?
This is an example of how to determine your level of responsibility. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you how long the finish on your particular wood floor should have lasted. It seems you could consult with several flooring stores in your area to get an idea of how long the finish is supposed to last. Also, you might get a couple of bids on what it would cost to repair/refinish the flooring.
The general rule would be a percentage. Say a wood floor in ideal conditions would last 10 years. You have lived there for 3 so the landlord has received 30% of the benefit of the finish. Then if the floor has to be totally refinished, generally, the split would be 30% the landlord and 70% you.
However, you don't describe damage to the entire floor. So if only 20% of the floor is damaged -- not as the result of "normal wear and tear" -- then you would only be looking at paying 70% of the cost to repair the 20% of the floor. If the landlord decided he was going to have the entire floor refinished, you would still only pay 70% of 20% of the total cost.
And who gets to decide how good shape the floor needs to be brought back to (I am not sure it is so far beyond normal wear and tear, but would like to give them something to get them nice floors again)...
As I re-read your question, you state the floor was "relatively new" before you moved in. You would want to find out when the floor had been installed or refinished because that would be the beginning date for setting the landlord's percentage.
Well the floors would only need to be brought back to the condition they were in when you moved in -- minus normal wear and tear. If you and the landlord cannot agree, then maybe you could agree on the opinion of someone who installs flooring. The problem is that "normal wear and tear" is just a nice sounding phrase with no definite meaning.
Unfortunately if you cannot come to an agreement somehow with the landlord, then the dispute would be decided by a court-- which is not an option anyone should want.
The landlord is going to argue that to make the floors look uniform throughout, the entire floor needs to be re-done, even though only a few areas were scuffed. I want to be fair and give them some money for it, but do not want to pay $5000 to redo their floors, even if we did more than normal wear and tear damage to a few small areas... Can you provide any more color on how these types of issues usually play out in CA?
We have brought in several flooring experts and they are all over the place - I have gotten quotes as low as $2k and as high as $6k... I am going to say that the floors should last about 10-12 years and they are about 4 years old.
Then the landlord starts out at needing to be responsible for the first 33 1/3 % of the costs of repairs.
Second "normal wear and tear" should cover normal walking on the floors and such. If pets were allowed, then "normal wear and tear" should cover any normal markings from the pets. Furniture is normally used in homes so the normal markings of the furniture should be covered. If deeper scratches or gouges were made, then those would likely not be normal wear and tear.
I would be surprised to learn that a flooring expert could not match the finish in repairs.
they say they need to sand down the whole floor and refinish the whole floor for it to look uniform... we are just in a headlock about which flooring quote to accept and what percent we should pay. I just needed some color on where ca law would come out regarding how much damage is normal wear and tear and how the costs of repairs are divided bw LL and T...
Again, using $6000, the landlord should pay the first $2000. Then a calculation would be made for how to split the remaining $4000. If the NOT normal wear and tear was to 50% of the floor, then you would pay approximately $2000.
Gotcha. Thanks very much for your help...
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).