As a property owner in Irving, Richardson or elsewhere, you are expected to maintain your property for the comfort of your tenants. As you maintain your property, you’ll come across “normal wear and tear.” But what exactly does that mean? And is normal wear and tear exempt from security deposit deductions? All these questions and more will be answered in this article!
Definition of Normal Wear and Tear
As time passes, it is normal and natural for wear and tear to occurs in your rental space. Wear and tear does not mean that the tenant has intentionally caused damage through negligence or carelessness. Normal wear and tear is reasonably expected when a tenant lives in your property and uses your furnishings. For this reason, it is generally exempt from deductions to be made from a security deposit.
Examples of Normal Wear and Tear
- Fading or peeling wall paint
- Slightly torn or faded wallpaper
- Small stains appearing on a carpet
- Sticky doors resulting from humidity
- Scratches on countertops
- Slight watermarks on surfaces
Definition of Damage
On the other hand, property damage often results from a tenant’s negligence towards the property. Here are some examples that would be considered damage.
Examples of Damage
- Visible stains and burns on a carpet
- Using unapproved wallpaper
- Doors ripped off of their hinges
- Broken and/or damaged windows
- Large holes in the wall
That said, not all tenants are responsible for property damages. Property owners must also be involved in maintaining the property. By law, as a property owner, you must make your rental properties habitable to tenants.
Identifying Normal Wear and Tear
As the owner, you are responsible for normal wear and tear in your rental unit. Thus, learning about what constitutes as wear and tear versus damage will be important. Frequently, identifying one from the other can result in landlord-tenant disputes upon move out. The refund of a security deposit is an important duty by tenancy end. You can deduct the cost of repairing property damages, but not normal wear and tear.
Walk through Inspections
One way to avoid situations of conflict is conducting walk through inspections. When a tenant moves in, it is helpful to document the property’s condition. Pictures and videos should be taken of the appliances and furnishings prior to the tenant move-in.
Signing the documented papers means that both parties agree on the stated condition of the property. When the tenant moves out, you will have evidence of the property’s initial condition. Doing so will enable you to easily identify damages and monitor wear and tear.
Each property owner has a key responsibility in keeping his rental property well maintained. This also helps in preventing the wear and tear of the furnishings in the unit. It is important to exercise routine maintenance.
Here are some things you can do to help maintain your property, and some guidelines concerning tenant charges:
1. Clean the Unit
If you get your property professionally cleaned between tenants to help maintain it, you shouldn’t charge the tenant. However, if a tenant moves out and leaves the property filthy and messy, you can charge them. Heavy professional cleaning is required in this situation so it’s rightful to charge them for cleaning fees.
2. Steam-Clean the Carpet
If you steam clean the carpets prior to every tenant’s move in, this is not deductible from a tenant’s security deposit. However, if a lease expires and you discover a carpet stain that’s so severe it requires replacement, this can be suitably charged to the tenant.
3. Wall Paint
If the tenant stayed for a short duration and the wall paint becomes unattractive due to crayon markings or drawings, then a painting job can be reasonably charged to the tenant. However, if the tenant stayed for a longer period, repainting is considered as routine maintenance and shouldn’t be charged to the tenant.
Item’s Life Expectancy
Every product has its own life expectancy. As a result, there’s a normal deterioration that occurs through everyday use. By this token, you can’t charge the tenant full price if replacement of an item is necessary. However, if the tenant damages a new item, they will be liable to pay the full price of the item.
For example, an air conditioning unit has a 10-year life expectancy. If damage was done after 5 years then deduction must be computed at 50% of the cost. It would be unfair to let the tenant pay the entire amount since the air conditioning unit had only been used for 5 years.
Understanding what wear and team means and realizing that every item has a life expectancy is important. Also, understanding the difference between natural wear and tear and property damages can avoid conflict between tenants and property owners.
For more information or inquiries, feel free to contact us.