Is It Wear & Tear Or Property Damage? 

Let’s be honest, in a perfect world we would love to have a tenant vacate your property and leave it showroom ready but that is not the normal scenario.  People are living in your investments.   They are using the sink, walking on the carpets, hanging pictures and cooking on the stove.  While some wear is normal things such as burned carpets, cracked tiles and holes in walls are anything but “normal”.  Wear and tear is often considered use and enjoyment of the property while damage is considered to be careless and reckless use.

Tenants are paying to use your property.  As sound business practice you should be allocating a portion of the rent of the unit to cleaning and updates upon move-out.  Keep in mind that the longer a tenant stays the more extensive the wear and tear may be.

Wear and tear can be faded paint, grout that has become discolored, scrapes on the wall, worn patina on fixtures or carpet that can be cleaned with a good steam.  Damage can be bleached carpets, holes in walls, broken windows, drains that don’t function or broken appliances.  While you as an owner are responsible for the wear and tear on your property the tenant is responsible for damages to the unit. 

Some considerations a landlord must take into regard is the costs of any repairs arising out of tenancy is how old is the damaged item that needs repair or replacement?   How old is that carpet, painted surface or appliance?  A twenty- year old stove with two broken burners may just have broken down from age not neglect and may not even be worth a repair as opposed to an appliance with one year of use that is  non-functioning  is a completely different consideration.  You should be basing decisions on the age of the item as well as the expected life span and damage. 

You should expect as a landlord a level of use of your property.  You should not be shocked by damage.  When doing repairs make sure you hire contractors who are properly licensed and insured.  Get detailed bids from multiple companies and take pictures before and after any work.

To ensure that you will have success with tenants who treat you property as their own be sure to screen prior to renting.  Make sure that you have the right process in place to help you get the best tenant for your investment. Some of the most important tools of the trade would be a detailed application and lease such as the POA’s (available online to our members) and includes several protections.

Once you have found a renter ensure success by doing a complete move-in walk through with tenants documenting the property condition.  Take pictures before move in so everyone knows what to expect upon move-out. Have tenants sign off on the move-in statement so there are no surprises down the road.  During the rental term be accessible and address repairs as quickly as possible.  Be proactive when something is in need of a repair.  If you delay fixing an item your tenants may delay reporting an issue and that time can often cost you money with water issue, pests etc.  

You should expect a level of use.  You should not be shocked by damage.  When doing repairs make sure you hire contractors who are properly licensed and insured.  Get detailed bids from multiple companies and take pictures before and after any work.  You can always itemize the damage and withhold it from the security deposit.  Should the amount be in excess of the deposit you can take your tenant to small claims court to seek reimbursement. 

As always you should utilize all of the forms available to you through the POA as well as leverage your POA knowledge base to ensure that you are on the right track. 

Read more information on this topic.

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