Have you come across the term “normal wear and tear” recently? If you’re a new landlord, you’ve probably heard it. Landlords are responsible for any normal wear and tear that happens in their property, and distinguish it from tenant damages.
All tangible things go through normal wear and tear. The shoes you’re wearing, the phone you’re holding and even the house you’re living in. As time passes, continual use deteriorates all objects and property.
Definition of Normal Wear and Tear
Normal wear and tear refers to the natural damage that happens in the property as a result of age. A tenant occupying your rental property will contribute to its wear and tear.
This type of depreciation is reasonable. If items in your home experience normal wear and tear, it’s not your tenant’s neglect that’s to blame. In this regard, as the landlord, the cost of replacement or damage repair will come from your own pockets.
Some Examples of Normal Wear and Tear
When a renter has moved out, you may notice upon close inspection that there are small cracks visible on the wall. These can be the result of normal wear and tear. Thus, you shouldn’t make deductions upon a tenant’s security deposit.
Fading paint or wallpaper during your regular inspection of a tenant’s unit will also fall under the normal wear and tear situation. So, the repainting of walls and the replacement of wallpaper is your responsibility.
Definition of Excessive Damage
So, what if there are damages that resulted from a tenant’s negligence? Landlords are not liable to shoulder the cost of repair for these damages. If the damage is excessive and the rental property shows signs of destruction, you can evict your tenant.
It’s important that we know how to differentiate excessive damage from normal wear and tear. Under Missouri law, landlords are only responsible for replacing or fixing damaged items if they’re connected to normal wear and tear.
Some Examples of Excessive Damage
Let’s say a tenancy has ended and you conducted a final walkthrough on your rental unit. You’re surprised to find that your walls have wide, gaping holes smashed into them. Who will pay for the repairs? Since this shows a sign of neglect from the tenant even if it may have resulted from an accident, they are required to pay for the repairs.
Similarly, imagine a renter has stayed in your property for a year and upon their move-out, you find liquid stains that are hard to remove on the carpet. Is it right to deduct the cost of replacement or heavy duty cleaning from the renter? Yes. In this situation, the renter must pay for the cleaning or replacement of the carpet.
Maintenance of the Property
One of the main responsibilities of a landlord is to keep the rental property well maintained. This helps in preserving the unit and making the furnishing and appliances last longer.
If an appliance has a serviceable life of 10 years, then you can replace it after that time, as long as it’s kept in good condition. This is why maintenance is crucial so you can avoid spending too much on repair and replacement.
Here are other steps to maintain in your home:
Hire professional cleaners
To keep your rental home spotless, it is recommended that you conduct professional cleaning annually or twice a year. You can split the cost with your tenant if they agree.
Once a tenant’s contract has expired, you may deduct from their security deposit if the rental unit needs heavy-duty cleaning.
Carpets can make a unit look pristine. This is why regular steam-cleaning can make it last longer and look beautiful.
If your carpet has several stains, holes or burns upon a tenant’s exit then it’s justified to deduct from their security deposit. This act of neglect constitutes damage and must be paid for by the renter.
A well-painted wall that’s properly maintained looks attractive and raises the value of your home.
If a tenant moves out and there are dirty markings on the wall such as lipstick stains or crayon drawings, you can deduct from their security deposit.
Often, there are disputes surrounding deductions from the security deposit when the tenancy ends. To avoid this scenario, a walk-through inspection is recommended. This practice will help you easily identify items that are damaged basing on normal wear and tear.
Documenting through video and photos means you can also easily compare the before-and-after of the house’s condition. You’ll be avoiding a lot of conflicts since the evidence will be clear.
A tenant may argue that the damages were already there before they moved in. Photographic proof will negate this argument. The objective here is to eradicate arguments and fairly assign the cost of replacement and repair.
Both wear and tear and excessive damage can occur in your property. That’s why being able to differentiate between the two can make expense assessment quicker.
Disputes over deductions on the security deposit frequently happen when a tenant leaves. As such, it’s helpful for you to retain a working knowledge of what normal wear and tear is.
Property maintenance and walk-through inspections are areas a landlord should focus on. The former slows down normal wear and tear and the latter protects your time and finances.
Should you need a property manager to make the tasks of property maintenance easier, contact Young Management Corporation today. Located in Kansas, MO, we can be reached at 816-779-3131 or 913-947-3131.