Investment properties are bound to have the normal amount of wear and tear caused by aging or simply by being lived in by tenants. Wear and tear issues are common and customary, and it’s the responsibility of the landlord to repair the wear and tear issues as part of maintaining their properties.
The struggle that many Orlando landlords have is trying to decide what “normal wear and tear” looks like in a rental home and what property damage looks like. It’s important to document the condition of your home thoroughly so you and your tenants are on the same page about damage and wear and tear at the end of the lease period.
Defining Normal Wear and Tear
Naturally occurring deterioration is going to happen to any rental property, regardless of who is living there. You’ll find that your walls may have paint that looks worn or chipped. There may be small holes in those walls caused from hanging pictures, and there may be scuff marks from where furniture was placed.
Counter tops may have some normal staining, and bathrooms will often have withered caulking around toilets and tubs. These are all considered normal wear. You cannot expect the tenant to pay for these issues. Carpets with mild staining is typical, especially if you’ve had that carpet in your property for a number of years. Linoleum that’s been on a floor will eventually begin to wear and perhaps peel up in the corners.
Orlando rental homes face unique wear and tear issues because of the climate here. The high humidity and strong sunlight can fade window treatments and paint, and there can be musty odors floating around the home and extra wear on air filters, vents, and cooling units. Making sure your rental home is properly climate controlled can save money when it comes to fixing the home up to re-rent.
Identifying Tenant Damage
Wear and tear items are a landlord’s responsibility, but damage caused by the tenant can be paid for out of the security deposit. Even if something was broken by accident, it’s still the tenant’s responsibility. Anything that goes beyond normal wear and tear or is the result of tenant abuse, misuse, or neglect, can be considered damage. It might be large holes in the walls or broken windows. Perhaps huge scratches on wood floors were left behind by a tenant’s pet or there’s mold under a sink because the tenant never reported a leak.
Landlords are not responsible for damage caused by tenants and can deduct money from their security deposit to cover any and all damages.
Documenting Rental Property Condition
Normal wear and tear can usually be separated from tenant damage by looking at your move-in inspection report and comparing it to your move-out inspection report. This is why your inspections are so critical. You should have pictures of everything, and if a tenant tries to dispute a charge for damage, you can provide the picture or the video that shows why you made the deduction. Usually, this resolves the issue. Make sure tenants sign off on the move-in inspection report, and if you do make any deductions to the security deposit, provide an itemized list of what they were. You need to cover all these bases or your tenants can take you to court.