What’s Normal Wear and Tear for a Rental Property?

As a landlord, your property means a lot to you. It’s your income, your pride and joy, and your future. It takes a leap of faith to entrust it to a tenant, but that’s the job, and sometimes it’ll break your heart. When your property suffers damage, it can be hard to determine who’s responsible for the costs. After all, what’s normal wear and tear for a rental property? This guide will give you some good working knowledge.

Normal Wear and Tear

Think of wear and tear as “expected depreciation.” Your tenant is paying rent to use your property, and there’s no way to preserve it in mint condition. Sometimes it’s called “reasonable” wear and tear, and that’s included in the rent, including:

  • Faded, thin carpet
  • Worn flooring
  • Peeling and cracking paint
  • Loose grout around tile
  • Worn enamel in bathrooms
  • Doors that stick because of humidity
  • Torn wallpaper
  • Warped cabinet doors
  • Worn appliances

The longer a tenant stays, the more the unit may deteriorate from everyday use.

Unexpected Damage Due To Tenant

Another way to think of unexpected damage is to use the words “abuse” and “neglect.” Whether on purpose, by accident, or as a result of neglect, this damage harms the value of your property. It may even prevent it from functioning normally. These repairs can be taken out of the security deposit, but landlord-tenant views vary by state:

  • Stains and burns in flooring
  • Broken windows
  • Unauthorized wallpaper
  • Broken enamel in bathrooms
  • Holes in the wall
  • Cracked mirrors
  • Unapproved paint colors
  • Broken door hinges

Unexpected Damage Due To Landlord

Of course, not all unexpected damage is the fault of the tenant. When a landlord doesn’t keep up with plumbing maintenance, for instance, aging pipes can cause leaks or worse. The property itself may be at fault, with structural flaws that cause cracked roofs, ceilings, and windowsills. You have a responsibility to make sure your property is habitable, and that damage should be resolved immediately.

Documenting Damage

During move-in and move-out inspections, take photos of the condition of the property. Be upfront with the tenant and in the lease about the consequences for damage, and what repairs you expect to cover as the landlord. With good communication, you’ll find it easier to find common ground on damages that land in the gray area.

There’s not always a simple answer to “What’s normal wear and tear for a property?” For instance, if a tenant paints the walls chartreuse, it will have to be repainted for the next tenant; the cost should come out of the security deposit. Then again, if the tenant has been there a few years, you’d have to repaint the unit anyway, so you should cover it. A lot of it comes down to judgment calls.

R. Russell Properties has plenty of practice when it comes to protecting owners’ investments. If you’re looking for property management in Apopka or central Florida, find out how we can help you minimize disputes and optimize your profits. Contact us to learn more.