What’s the difference between wear and tear vs. damage?
October 9, 2012 in Blog Post
Last week Scott posted some tips for fixing the wear and tear on your property (See: Fixing the wear and tear on your property to learn more). When you have tenants in your properties, what would you consider wear and tear and what would you consider damage? There is a distinct difference between the two.
Here’s how Scott and I normally distinguish between the two:
If something is legitimately broken, then the tenant should be responsible for it. If the tenant makes a big hole on the wall, it’s damage. A little hole from hanging posters and paintings is considered normal and you should factor it into your repair and maintenance budget. If there are minor furniture scrapes on the wall, that’s considered wear and tear. If the carpet is worn down, that’s also wear and tear. A big stain could be considered damage. The policy should state whether the tenant or the landlord is responsible for paying for steam cleaning of the carpet. Sometimes you will find large cigarette burns in the carpet, and that’s considered damage. You can’t clean that up. You can take that out of the damage deposit, but you definitely have to document it. Take a picture of the damage and start a file, in case the tenant contests your bill for the damage or your decision to withhold the damage deposit, if there is one.
If you do a final inspection with the tenant on the 30th of the month, and the person is scheduled to move out the following day, take care of the problem immediately. That way, the tenant is still under the lease. Whether it’s a big issue or a small issue, the reality is that a tenant is not always going to pay you for it. If it is less than a couple of hundred bucks, ask for it, but don’t expect to get it. Just have it documented.