What is Considered Normal Tenant Wear and Tear - Article Banner

At the end of any tenancy, you’ll need to conduct an inspection of the property to determine how to return the departing tenant’s security deposit and to evaluate what needs to be done before a new tenant is moved in. 

The main question you’re like to face is whether you’re looking at normal tenant wear and tear or tenant damage

It’s an important distinction. Normal wear and tear is the responsibility of the landlord. You’ll be the one paying for it. Damage, on the other hand, is something you can hold your tenant accountable for by keeping some or all of their security deposit. 

How do you know the difference? 

Let’s take a look at how to know you’re looking at normal tenant wear and tear when you’re turning over a rental property. 

Defining Wear and Tear in Rental Homes

While there isn’t a single definition of normal wear and tear, it’s generally considered any deterioration that occurs to your property and its fixtures which is the result of normal and regular usage over time. 

Think about your own home. There are certain areas that likely wear down over time. Carpets get worn in high-traffic areas. The floors get scratched when furniture is dragged over them. 

When you have a tenant living in your rental property, you can expect normal wear and tear such as: 

  • Discoloration of tile or vinyl floors 
  • Small nail holes in walls from pictures being hung
  • Scuff marks on floors and walls from furniture
  • Faded paint from direct sunlight
  • Loose and dirty caulk in bathroom tiles.

You can expect you’ll have to pay for cosmetic updates and upgrades between tenants. This will be your responsibility financially. Any home will begin to decline physically when tenants live there, and the longer your tenants are in place, the more wear and tear you can expect to find during your inspection. 

Beyond Wear Tear: When is it Tenant Damage?

Tenant DamageWhen are the repairs you need to make the result of something other than general wear and tear? 

When it’s tenant damage. 

Damage is not always intentional; in fact, it’s often accidental. However, it’s also still the tenant’s responsibility, whether we’re talking about:

  • A door that was ripped off its hinge 
  • Large holes in the wall from a television being mounted
  • Major stains in the carpet
  • Floors that have been damaged beyond light scratches
  • Missing or damaged appliances.

When you discover tenant damage, document it carefully. You’ll be using funds from the tenant’s security deposit to pay for the damage, and that means you’ll need back-up in case a tenant disputes what you’re charging. Conduct a thorough move-out inspection that includes photos. Compare the condition of the home at the end of the tenancy to the condition at the beginning of the tenancy. This will help you identify and document damage. 

As experienced Ormond Beach property managers, we’ve conducted a lot of inspections and we’ve seen a lot of wear and tear. We’ve also seen a lot of tenant damage. If you’re not sure how to distinguish between the two, Please contact us at Oceans Managing Group by calling (386) 255-8585, or visit www.oceanspropertymanagement.com. We can help you put together a sound move-out policy that easily reflects and accommodates the difference between normal wear and tear and damage.