As a landlord, it is important to know, understand, and be able to determine the difference between normal wear and tear, and unreasonable damage. But determining the difference between the two can be a challenge as a property owner. You don’t want to be caught paying for intentional damage from previous tenants’ wrongdoings. So how do you make the distinction? Here’s a few ways that can help you better determine the difference.

What is Acceptable Wear And Tear?

As a good rule of thumb, anything that can be reasonably fixed after a good cleaning or simple repair is usually something that would be considered normal wear and tear. If a cleaning or simple repair can’t do the trick, then put more effort and thought into determining the case. Because the truth is, normal deterioration will occur so expect it. Here’s a few examples of things you should expect to happen as your tenant continues to occupy the home:

  • Faded Carpet
  • Loose grouting
  • Faded or Torn Wallpaper
  • Faded, peeling, or cracking paint
  • Partially clogged sinks and/or pipes

These, along with others, should be expected wear and tear for a landlord to find while walking through a move-out inspection.

What is Unacceptable Wear And Tear?

As a landlord owning a rental property, you are without a doubt susceptible to finding excessive wear and tear at some point in your career. But determining the difference between natural cause damage and intentional damage can be a challenge. Generally, excessive damage usually requires great repairs and can also be quite noticeable. If you are worried about not being able to recognize these damages, take pictures or videos before and after the tenant moves so you can better see what wear and tear has taken place. Here’s a few things that would be considered excessive wear and tear:

  • Broken or missing blinds
  • Broken appliances
  • Chipped Flooring
  • Broken windows
  • Stained Carpet
  • Large holes in the wall
  • Clogged sinks and/or pipes
  • Pet damages

Life Expectancy

Everything has a life span, some longer than others. At some point, the use of one thing will need to be taken out and replaced. Understanding and knowing the life expectancy of certain items can also help in determining what intentional damage has been done. Just know, landlords cannot charge a tenant the full replacement cost of the damaged item unless it was brand new at the time it was damaged. If the item was damaged after half the life expectancy time has passed, then you should be charging the tenant half the cost of replacement. HUD has a list of various items and their life expectancy:

  • Hot Water Heaters (10 years)
  • Plush Carpeting (5 Years)
  • Ari Conditioning Units ( 10 years)
  • Ranges (20 years)
  • Refrigerators (10 years)
  • Interior Painting-Enamel (5 years)
  • Interior Painting-Flat (3 years)
  • Tiles/Linoleum (5 years)
  • Window Shades, Screens, Blinds (3 years)

If any of these items were in good condition at the time of move-in, and are damaged by the move out date, then a damage claim can be submitted.It’s important to know and understand situations in a rental property and be able to determine the difference between damage and naturally caused damage. The relationship between landlords and tenants should be a priority and making sure it’s a good one. Surprising your tenants with unexpected damage costs that shouldn’t be charged could put you, as the landlord, in a bad place. Understanding the difference between intention and natural damage, it’s very important in becoming a successful landlord. If you are looking for some more tips and tricks on how to better determine the difference, contact Keyrenter St Charles today!