Good day Ncchong,
Your question is a great one to ask as a tenant. There is no one size answer fixes all issues on this one.
Normal wear and tear is the using up of the rental unit resources in the normal living in the rental unit.
If the carpet is worn in an area due to walking on it, that is normal wear and tear. If it is worn because the baby sits in one spot and scratches at the fibers, that is not normal wear and tear.
The window latch not securing the window may be considered normal wear and tear if it breaks while closing the window. The latch missing because the tenant removed it as it was in the way, is not normal wear and tear.
Normal wear and tear is the regular and usual maintenance items in the living inside of a property. Light bulbs burnt out and needing replacement is normal. Finding the light bulbs missing and replacing them 2 times a month is not normal.
Now, let's chat about the cabinet. If the cabinet became lose because the screws became lose and the tenant did not report it to the landlord. Then it fell, that would not be considered normal wear and tear. If you reported it to the landlord and he did nothing about it, then I would think the landlord would be responsible to fix the cabinet. Personally, I have never had a cabinet or door come off the wall. If one of the children was pulling on it or the cabinet was overloaded with canned goods, the tenant would need to pony up the repair cost.
If the cabinet was lose and you still used it, the damage to the cabinet falling would be your responsibility and pay the bill. You should have tightened the screws. Ask your neighbow for a screwdrive if you do not have one.
If the cabinet was not installed properly such as the screws were not into the wood studs, then I would think the landlord will re-install the cabinet properly.
Simple question, not so simple answer.
I had a sliding glass door shatter on one of my rental units. I wanted the tenant to pay for the repair. It was hundreds of dollars. The glass man came out and determined that the rubber gasket had failed and when the August sun shone on the window the window expanded and shattered. As much as I wanted the tenant to pay for a new window, I paid the bill. It was not their fault.
My leases have a dollar amount for the tenant to pay for normal items that wear out such as light bulbs and smoke alarm batteries. I still fix them if I know about them. In your case, would a $1.00 screw have prevented the issue? It is not a matter of being right. It is a matter of living together. Let's work together to keep our places safe and enjoyable to live in. If the cabinet was tight when you moved in, then go to the local hardware store and buy a $3.00 hinge and fix the door. Send me the bill for $3.00 and I'll pay for it. Be done with the project and let's get back to being good neighbors once again.
I hope that provides you the answer to the question.
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