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Waste, Duty to Repair, Destruction of Leased Premises, and Security Deposits


A tenant has a duty to his or her landlord not to commit waste. Waste is the unauthorized destruction, alteration, misuse, or neglect of the leased premises. Waste involves a substantial change of the premises. There are two principal types of waste: It may be either (1) voluntary and intentional, or (2) permissive. Voluntary or affirmative waste is a direct, willful, or intentional injury to the premises. Permissive waste is the result of neglect or omission, such as allowing a structure on the premises to deteriorate or become exposed to injury by the weather.

  Traditionally, a tenant's making material or substantial change in the premises was voluntary waste, regardless of the fact that it increased its fair market value. Such an approach has been modified in many jurisdictions to depend on the express or implied intention of the parties, with the result that a reasonable change in the premises—that is, one reasonably necessary to use the property as contemplated in the lease—is now permitted.

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