This page is meant to provide a general overview of the difference between waer and tear vs damage when doing a security deposit return. 

Security deposits can be used to repair damages for which a tenant is responsible. However, a landlord cannot apply the security deposit to normal wear and tear. The question that is often asked is: "What is normal wear and tear?" and "What's the difference?"

Normal Wear and Tear Defined

Accoring to the Residential Tenancies Act of Alberta, normal wear and tear is defined as the deterioration that occurs over time with the use of the premises, even though the premises receive reasonable care and maintenance. 

Damage can therefore be defined as deterioration which occurs due to negligence, carelessness, accident, or abuse of the premises or equipment or chattels by the tenant or member of his household, or their invitees or guests. 

Notice that normal wear and tear does not include dirt - excessive dirt is considered negligence, carelessness, accident or abuse. 

The following is a list of examples and in intended as a guide to reasonable interpretation of the difference between expected "wear and tear" from normal residential use and irresponsible, intentional or unintentional actions that cause damage to a property. 

RTDRS have also ruled that the length of time a tenant has occupied a property must also be taken in consideration when accessing damages in relation to deductions to a tenants security deposit. The longer a tenant has resided in a property, the more allowance must be given for "wear and tear" over damage. 

Wear & Tear Damage
Small nail holes caused by a 6 penny nail or smaller. a 6 penny nail is 2 inches long and is used for hanging picture frames and other items on walls Large holes from hanging shelves, pictures, screws, wall anchors, flat screen TV brackets or any other wall hanging that cause damage larger than a 6 penny nail. 
Faded paint Spot painting and patching or touch up paint of any kind
Faded caulking around bathtub and tiles Missing caulking around the bathtub and tiles
Hard water deposits Buildup of dirt, mold, mildew or water stains from a preventable or unreported water leak or drip
Worn out keys Broken, lost or unreturned keys
Loose or stubborn door key Broken or missing locks
Loose hinges or handles on doors Damage from a door from forced entry, or damage from using feet to open doors 
Worn carpet traffic patterns Torn, burned, stained, missing, ripped, scratched, or snagged carpet, pet damage
Faded finish on wood floors Scratched, gouged, warped, or water damaged wood floors
Linoleum worn thin Linoleum with tears, chips or holes
Worn countertops due to daily use Burned, cut, stained, scratched or water damaged countertops
Drywall cracks from settling Holes in walls, doors, screens or windows from misuse, negligence, carelessness, accident, or abuse
Faded, chipped or cracked paint Unapproved or poor tenant paint job
Loose wallpaper Ripped or marked up wallpaper
Worn or heat blistered blinds Broken, bent, cracked or missing slats, wands or hardware. Broken strings.
Dirty window and door screens Torn or missing screens
Sticky window Broken window
Loose or inoperable faucet handle Broken or missing faucet handle
Running toilet Broken toilet seat, tank top or chipped or cracked toilet bowl
Musty odor Urine or pet odor throughout the unit
Closet bi-fold door off track Damaged or missing bi-fold door
Non-functioning smoke detector Missing or detached smoke detector or missing batteries
Non-functioning light fixture Missing, burnt out, or incorrect style light bulbs
Dry lawn Lawn with pet urine spots, dead areas, excessive weeds
Slow draining drains Drains that are clogged by hair, toys or other non-flushable objects