When managing your property rental, you may have encountered the term “normal wear and tear” in the business. What is it, and what does it have to do with handling your rental unit?
Normal wear and tear is an attribute of the natural depreciation of an object. For example, when you use your refrigerator, its value will not be equal from the first year of purchase to the fifth year of your usage.
All objects are subject to aging. As a result, when replacing furnishing, appliance or items, you have to account for the normal wear and tear of the object.
Say, a tenant who’s been living in your apartment for the last five years reported that the microwave oven had stopped functioning. Naturally, the full cost of a replacement should not be charged to the renter solely.
The average life span of a microwave oven is around nine years. So, say the tenant has been staying in the unit for the past five years. As he has been using the said appliance, there’s already existing normal wear and tear for which you have to account.
You can split the costs of a new unit. You can pay for 60%, and the renter can pay for 40%. If the tenant decides to end his tenancy, you can also compute and deduct for the percentage from the security deposit.
A landlord’s priority is to maintain and repair the rental property, as well as all the furnishing and appliances. Do this to make sure that the life span is not shorter than average and to enjoy its usefulness longer.
Sometimes, as much as you conduct proper maintenance, some tenants may cause damages through sheer negligence. This part is no longer the responsibility of the landlord, but the renter.
Signs of Normal Wear and Tear
Wear and tear is a natural part of residing in a rental property since all objects are bound to age. Here are some examples of normal wear and tear occurring in your rental home:
- Mild carpet stains
- Fading color of carpets
- Wood flooring scrapes
- Dirty grout
- Rusty shower heads and faucets
- Faded wallpaper
- Dirty window shades
- Fading paint
- Loose door handles
- Broken bathroom mirror
- Chipped tiles
- Loose or damaged closet and cabinet doors
- Clogged sinks
- Worn bathroom fixtures
Excessive Damage Defined
When dealing with normal wear and tear, another term that crops up is excessive damage when it comes to deductions. Excess damage pertains to deterioration or wreckage that happens intentionally. For example, a tenant may neglect to clean up the laundry room, and this results in a growing mold presence.
It’s essential to segregate damage that naturally happens as a result of normal wear and tear and damage that resulted from negligent behavior. Here are other examples of excessive damage in a rental property:
- Huge holes in the walls resulting from accidents and negligence
- Smashed mirrors
- Heavily damaged doors and windows with missing handles
- Broken toilet seat
- Walls filled with graffiti and drawings that are against conditions in the lease
- Heavy scratch markings on the floors made by a pet
- Tough to remove stains on walls, carpets and other furnishings
- Unapproved wallpapers and unapproved DIY painting of the unit
- Carpet stains, holes and burns
- Bent shower rods
- Visible nail holes
- Chipped wood floors
- Missing bathroom tiles
- Broken blinds or torn curtains
By conducting a walkthrough inspection, your job will be made easier. Once a tenant has ended his tenancy, check the condition of your rental unit.
Carefully assess the damages resulting from negligence and those that naturally occur from normal wear and tear. If you conducted a pre-move inspection, it’ll be convenient to scan the documented photos and videos of the rental unit before the duration of the rental stay of the tenant.
Security deposits require final computations upon their refund. When you have done a walkthrough inspection, this can be quickly accomplished. Each item will have the corresponding detailed repair cost that explains the partial return of the security deposit. This way, the tenant will understand the reasons and be shown proof as well.
Duty to Maintain the Property Unit
If you want to maintain the value of your property and keep normal wear and tear at bay, you should routinely maintain the property. Each State has laws mandating a landlord to make his rental property habitable and safe for the renter. Thus, you must maintain facilities such as heating and cooling systems, plumbing and electricity in its best condition.
As a landlord, you must also promptly attend to a tenant’s request for property repairs. Even so, if the damages derive from a renter’s negligence, the renter should be the one to spend for the cost of replacement or repair.
On the other hand, if the damage trickled down from the negligence of the landlord, then the charges must be borne by you.
Average Life Span
Each appliance has an average life span that only has a set number of years for maximum use. As a landlord, you must be aware of this to avoid letting your renter shoulder the full price of a particular appliance when it has served its life expectancy.
Here are some of the common appliances, as well as their average life spans:
- Air conditioners can operate from 8-15 years.
- You can use dishwashers for 9 years.
- It’s expected for dryers to function for 13 years.
- Exhaust fans work for up to 10 years.
- Washing machines can run from 5-15 years.
It’s expected for normal wear and tear to occur, and a landlord must account for this. However, damages are also part of operating a rental unit, and it’s important to differentiate between the two. Doing so makes sure repair and replacement charges are assigned to the right party.