As years pass, you can expect your properties to depreciate in form as renters occupying the unit. These expected declines are not considered damages caused by tenant neglect or abuse. Damage resulting from normal wear and tear cannot be deducted from the security deposit. As such, it’s vital to know the difference between wear and tear and excessive property damage to mitigate security deposit disputes at the end of a tenancy.

Defining Normal Wear and Tear

In general, normal wear and tear refers to the expected deterioration of the property, including its fixtures and furnishings. These occur from ordinary, everyday use of the dwelling. For instance, the paint in your house eventually grows dull over the years and your floors won’t appear as shiny as when your home was first built. The longer a renter stays, the more wear and tear you can expect to happen in your rental unit.

Defining Excessive Property Damage

Typically, excessive property damages are unexpected and minimize the function and value of the rental property. It can be caused by abuse and neglect on the part of the tenant. Example sou it can include missing and cracked tiles that cannot have resulted from a resident’s daily use. It can be traced to neglect, accident, or purposely planned.

a bunch of shattered glass on the floor from a broken window

Differentiating Between Normal Wear and Tear and Excessive Property Damage

When renting out a property, landlords must know how to identify normal wear and tear from excessive property damage so they won’t have to pay for the repairs for damages caused by renters. Here’s a guide to differentiate the two:

Examples of Normal Wear and Tear Damage

Everyday use of the rental can lead to a decline and no one can be blamed for this type of damage. The following examples are considered normal wear and tear that landlords must cover in terms of repair costs:

  • Torn wallpaper or peeling paint
  • Sticky doors and windows
  • Cracked window panes
  • Loose grouting on tiles
  • Partially clogged sinks and drains attributed to aging pipes
  • Scuffed varnish on wooden floors

Examples of Excess Property Damage

The following are examples of property damage that goes beyond normal wear and tear:

  • Missing window shades
  • Chipped and heavily stained floors
  • Unapproved wall paint
  • Doors with ripped hinges
  • Broken windows
  • Shower mold caused by lack of regular cleaning
  • Clogged sinks or drains caused by improper use
  • Missing bathroom tiles

It’s important to note that not all excessive property damage is the fault of the tenant. There may be times when the renter already reported the issue but the landlord ignored the repair request, which led to greater damage.

a plumber in a blue hat and shirt using a wrench to fix a pipe

Scheduling Regular Property Inspections and Maintenance

Since landlords must keep the rental habitable, it’s wise to perform routine inspections to ensure your property remains in an excellent state. This also allows potential issues to be spotted early and for costly repairs are avoided.

Some of the tasks landlords perform to limit property damage include:

Regular Cleaning

Several landlords hire cleaning specialists to limit property damage. They do it before tenants move in and after they move out. Renters are expected to reasonably clean the unit during their stay and they can also be required to perform an end-of-tenancy cleaning.

Carpet Cleaning

Carpets need regular steam cleaning to maintain their state. This means steam cleaning carpets to remove light stains and odours. If there are multiple heavy stains on a brand-new carpet caused by the renter, then they must bear the costs of replacement.

Documenting Damage with Photos

It’s recommended for landlords to conduct move-in and move-out inspections to determine existing damages in the rental space and limit future disputes. Schedule a walk-through inspection with the renter and communicate your expectations of maintaining the property. You can also discuss the difference between normal wear and tear from excessive property damage.

When doing the inspection, bring a camera to take snapshots of the unit and document the existing damage. When the lease ends, it’s easy to determine which party is liable for paying the specific damage. Afterward, you can send the renter a cost estimate of the repairs and attach the photos as support for the security deposit deduction.

a small black handled digital camera

Detailed Tenant Screening

Aside from performing periodic property inspections, you must design a proper tenant screening procedure to ensure you’re accepting responsible renters. Dealing with evictions can be time-consuming, as well as costly in terms of legal fees.

Screen tenants thoroughly to determine if they’re the right fit. Check for tenant background and history. Contact previous renters and find out whether the renter caused excessive damage and the steps they took to fix it.

Know the Average Lifespan of Appliances

Every household item has an average life expectancy and landlords should always account for wear and tear. If an item is worn down from being used by different renters, then it’s time to replace it. Remember to check the longevity of these common items in your rental property. For instance here’s the lifespan of some common household items:

  • Air conditioning units generally function well for 10 years.
  • Refrigerators are good for 10 years
  • Hot water heaters can be used for 10 years
  • Thick carpets are good for 5 years
  • Window shades and screens can be utilized for 3 years.

Make sure to note when specific appliances or furnishings were purchased. This helps you estimate their life expectancy and check for excessive damage.

Set a Budget for Repairs

It’s advisable for property owners to set aside a repair fund. Any issues that need immediate repair owing to natural deterioration can be resolved without worries. Catching property problems early also allows you to save on costly fixes later on.

Bottom Line

Learning about wear and tear and excessive property damage helps landlords to assign repair costs. It also reduces financial losses, when it’s beyond normal wear and tear. Keeping maintenance costs down can be beneficial and ensures profits are protected.

Landlords can also hire property management companies to oversee their rental units. If you’re looking for a trusted property manager, contact American Dream & Realty Management today!