Normal Wear ‘N Tear Or Damage To Property

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on August 9, 2006 under Landlord and Tenant FAQs | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

Typically, during the term of a lease, landlords can expect their rental units to sustain a certain amount of wear and tear. In order to protect his / her investment, he / she must be able to distinguish between normal wear ‘n tear and actual damage to a building, as there is, but, a slim line between the two. A landlord must be able to discern the difference between the two, in order, to help protect his / her property without breaking state laws or wrongfully withholding a tenant’s security deposit.

Normal Wear and Tear: Regardless, of the sort of tenant a landlord rents out his / her property to, minor damage over the duration of a rental agreement is something that cannot be prevented. Damages could include anything from minor paint scratches or on the walls, broken door or window hinges to stained carpets, or any other insignificant damage.

Landlords may not appreciate having to repaint after each tenant vacates, but normal wear and tear makes certain, it is necessary. Besides, an odd nail hole or a few scuffs on the wall cannot be constituted as damage, and a landlord won’t be able to charge the tenant for the paint job to cover this very minor damage to the his / her property.

Damage: Real damage to the property goes beyond wear and tear, and large holes in the walls, in place of small scuffs or a few tiny nail holes, would be considered as damage to the property.

A carpet that is torn, ripped, badly stained, in other words completely ruined, can be construed as damage. If you do not allow pets on your property, despite which, you find evidence of pet stains, then this also can be considered as actual damage. In such a case, if no pet deposit has been charged to cover the damage, you may use the security deposit for repairing and restoring your property to its original condition.

If a tenant, who is moving out leaves behind personal items, furniture or excessive garbage, the law in certain states would label that as damage, because, you will have to pay for cleaning and to have the furniture removed.

In this case, a landlord is allowed to use the security deposit to cover the costs of cleaning the property or having the furniture removed. Once, a landlord is clear about the differences between normal wear ‘n tear and damage to rental property, he / she must draft a damage policy and include it in his / her rental agreement. Make it crystal clear, scuffed or tiny holes in the wall will be considered wear ‘n tear for which the tenant will not be held responsible. But, in the event there are major damages to the property, a tenant’s security deposit will be used to fix them. Everything should be clearly stated in the rental agreement to avoid confusion at a later date.

It is a good idea to walk through the property with a prospective tenant before allowing them to move in, noting existing problems, such as, paint scratches, scuffs, etc. on a checklist. After the walk through, have them sign the checklist and give them a copy, retaining one for your file. Use it to determine the condition of the property when the tenant moves out to determine about normal wear ‘n tear or damage to your property. Photographs or video tapes of the property before beginning a lease also prove useful, in the event a dispute arises between a landlord and tenant. Proper documentation regarding the state of your property will help prove the extent of the actual damages and, delineate between what is normal wear ‘n tear and what can be considered as damage to the rental unit.

As well, it is a good idea to check the state laws as each state has different requirements or guidelines regarding the definition of wear ‘n tear and property damage.

In order to avoid tenant problems, enlist the services of reliable and to be trusted to screen prospective tenants and carry out background checks on them before you sign a lease agreement with them.

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