As a landlord, one of your responsibilities is maintaining your rental property. Normal wear and tear is the deterioration that your property is bound to experience as you welcome tenants regularly over time. They can’t be pinpointed as damages occurring through a tenant’s negligence.
Landlords are tasked with fixing signs of normal wear and tear since this is expected to happen and cannot be blamed on the tenant. But before handling the repairs of any property damage, a landlord must be able to tell whether or not it is, in fact, reasonable wear and tear or excessive property damage caused by negligence at the hands of the tenant.
Sometimes, it can be hard to tell the difference between the two. This article will focus on defining wear and tear and excessive property damage. It’s important to know the difference so you’ll know the limits of your financial responsibilities. For instance, you can make deductions from the tenant’s security deposit if the damages are traced back to them.
Wear and tear are commonly alluded to as the level of deterioration that a living space undergoes after a certain length of time. Normal wear and tear can look like scratches on the furniture, dulling of the paint, and fading of the carpets. Essentially, the longer the unit is inhabited, the more wear and tear you’re bound to find.
When talking about property damage, this refers to the issue that impacts the properties values. It also can limit the function and usefulness of the property. For instance, wide holes in the walls can’t be categorized as “normal wear and tear”, as it is likely a result of either accidental or intentional property damage.
Deterioration is expected throughout the course of a tenant’s time in your property. Using furniture and appliances every day can lead to their inevitable decline. Here are some examples to guide you in identifying normal wear and tear:
Unexpected or excessive property damage is considered as deterioration or loss that occurs outside of normal wear and tear. Here are some examples to guide you in identifying unexpected damage:
Although unexpected damages can be linked to a tenant’s actions, these situations may also stem from a landlord’s neglect. For example, this can be shown when landlords fail to pay attention to problems with the foundation. This can result in floors sloping and walls may display long cracks. Other damages may be traced to the lack of maintenance of the plumbing, pipes, and HVAC systems.
It’s a landlord’s responsibility to ensure that their property meets all building codes and health and safety regulations. Therefore, you must ensure that you are conducting regular property inspections and respond to tenants’ maintenance and repair requests promptly.
Landlords can only touch a tenant’s security deposit when repairs are needed for damages that go beyond the definition of normal wear and tear. Conflicts can arise when damages are not properly categorized. A tenant may contest a landlord’s claim for property damage.
This is why it’s important to understand the difference between property damage and normal wear and tear and keep detailed records of the state of the property.
A good way to reduce the conflict between a landlord and tenant is to monitor the damage through proper documentation. A landlord can include a move-in and move-out inspection of the property to assess the state of the unit.
While conducting the move-in inspection, this can be the right time to clarify the expectations you have for the tenant during their stay. You can communicate your policy on dealing with unexpected damages versus normal wear and tear.
You can also make a list, noting the condition of the unit, including the state of the windows, locks, doors, and floors. This will let you track existing damages. If there are any new damages found when the tenancy ends, it will be easier to compare notes and determine who is financially responsible for the cost of the repairs.
The security deposit can cover damages beyond normal wear and tear that need to be fixed. Once again, having documentation will make it easier to communicate these deductions to the tenant.
An effective way to avoid tenant damage is to properly screen all prospective tenants before they sign the lease agreement and build a relationship with them after. You want to look for Minnesota renters who have a history of taking good care of their rentals and have strong landlord references.
Take the time to review all potential tenant’s backgrounds. MN Property Nerds can help you perform vital tenant selection. We can limit your property damages since we provide thorough tenant screening services.
Normal wear and tear is something that naturally happens to a property over time, especially if it’s seeing consistent use. Unexpected or excessive property damage on the other hand usually results from accidents or tenant neglect.
To protect yourself and your property be sure to conduct thorough tenant screenings and keep detailed maintenance and inspection records. This can take up a landlord’s time and energy, so consider hiring the services of a qualified property management company.
The experts at MN Property Nerds will gladly answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to learn more!