With age come issues. That's just how it is, in life in general. However, it also applies to properties. You can expect that the place you once rented out to tenants won't end up looking the same following their departure. Minor repairs are invariably required, even if the property has been regularly taken care of. Damages, however, should in no way be a part of the deal. Still, you may be struggling to determine what's considered a sign of aging and what occurred due to tenant negligence. Lucky enough, we've taken the time to point out the difference between normal wear and tear vs. property damage. Once you've determined what case your rental is falling into, you'll be able to act accordingly.
Normal Wear and Tear vs. Property Damage: The Difference and the GiveawaysThe majority of state laws suggest that your tenants aren't liable for the wear and tear that occurs due to everyday use. They are, however, held accountable for any damage that's a result of their carelessness. This could easily end up costing them their security deposit, at the very least. A notice to vacate and eviction are not off the table, either.
What Is Considered "Normal Wear and Tear"?
Issues caused by daily use and can't be avoided typically fall into the regular wear and tear category. Everything has a life span, and when someone's living on the premises long enough, certain things will require upgrading - or even full-on replacing after some time. The typical examples of normal deterioration are:
What Is Considered "Damage"?
While there's little to be done about wear and tear, damage, however, is undoubtedly preventable. It's the result of none other than absolute negligence or even misuse. It's often expensive to deal with, causing extreme losses for property owners, and thus, it might even earn tenants an eviction notice.
At times, damage can occur after tenants' departure, or rather, during their moving process. In most cases, the professional movers are in charge of relocations. When damages result from their work, it might be possible to get compensated if the company has general liability insurance. It's important to react on time - have the previous residents file a claim as soon as you've noticed the problem.
Identifying damage is difficult but not impossible. Here are a couple of examples:
How to Care For Your Rental Property and Address Damage?
Now that you are familiar with the notion of normal wear and tear vs. damage, it's time to discuss caring for a property. It's necessary to stay on top of the maintenance, as, down the line, it might prevent things from going south. Or, at the very least, it might prevent things from deteriorating any further.
The first step towards ensuring your property remains in the best condition possible is to screen the tenants before they sign a lease. Tenant frauds aren't uncommon, so taking an extra measure to protect your rental is absolutely warranted.
Create a Maintenance Plan
It's essential to keep up with regular maintenance while the tenants live on the premises. Talk to them about creating a maintenance plan. Have them inform you of anything that requires addressing promptly. If, for instance, appliances are reaching the end of their lifespan, replace them with new ones. Have the HVAC regularly maintained, as well. If you can't physically keep up with these tasks for whatever reason, it might be a smart idea to hire a property manager. They can keep in touch with your tenants. Furthermore, handling maintenance requests is what they excel at.
Have the Place Inspected Properly
We recommend documenting the condition of your rental both before the tenants' arrival and after their departure. Create an inspection checklist that a series of photos should preferably accompany. That way, should any issues occur, you'll have the necessary proof to handle them in an appropriate manner. Also, you could have future occupiers sign the checklist, too, for added protection.
Create a List of Charges
Hopefully, no damage has occurred on the premises. But if it has, once you have done a walkthrough of the property or had somebody professionally inspect the place, it's crucial to create a charge list to be sent to the previous renters. The list should include all damages explained in detail, along with the costs of repair. As an owner, you are required by law to send the list if the plan is to withhold the security deposit. Depending on the damage score, tenants could expect to lose either a part of their deposit or their entire deposit.
If you aren't quite sure about the costs of repair/replacement, it's necessary to contact someone capable of giving you an estimate. That someone may be a cleaner or a contractor. If it's the furniture or appliances that have suffered in the process, then calculate how much it will cost you to replace them.
The security deposit might not be able to cover the costs. In that case, you could take the case to court to get matters settled. Alternatively, mediation might help resolve the dispute.
Normal wear and tear vs. property damage – what is it and who's to blame?
Hopefully, you'll have managed to determine normal wear and tear vs. property damage difference by now. While there's not much to be done but tackle repairs yourself in the first case, the law is undoubtedly on your side as far as the second is concerned.
Clark Real Estate
305 W. Moana Ste C
Reno, NV 89509
Reno Property Management