The state of a property is a concern for both landlords and tenants because it directly influences the property's worth and the living experience.

A phrase that comes up frequently while delving into property care and renting is “Normal Wear and Tear”, but what exactly does it mean and why is it important in property management?

Stringer Management put together this article to help you differentiate between ‘Normal Wear and Tear’ and ‘Damage’ and to assist you in deciding whether to use security deposits or cover repair costs out-of-pocket.

“Normal Wear and Tear” vs Actual Damage

The distinction between "normal wear and tear" and damage can often be hard to decipher, but it is a crucial difference which enhances the landlord - tenant relation. This boundary must be clearly defined since it directly determines security deposit returns and the upkeep requirements.

  • Normal wear and tear refers to the progressive deterioration that occurs due to a property being utilized for its intended function. This phrase points to the typical occurrences that aren't detrimental to the property's general usefulness or appearance.
  • Unexpected damage on the other hand, is caused by negligence, misuse, or deliberate actions. The important distinction between the two is that unanticipated damage goes beyond the standard outcomes which result from regular use and mandates particular care and replacement, renovation or repair.


What Constitutes "Wear and Tear"?

Figuring out what qualifies under “normal wear and tear” entails several considerations such as:

  • The age of the property.
  • The quality of the supplies used.
  • The length of the tenant's occupation.

Also, any item that has a limited lifespan, such as light bulbs or air conditioner filters, typically gets replaced during tenant turnover and is not considered a damage.

When evaluating what constitutes typical wear and tear, it is critical to assess the reasonable life expectancy of different aspects within the property.

Some examples of normal wear and tear are:

  • Aging Roofing.
  • Faded Paint.
  • Minor Bathroom Wear.
  • Loose Cabinet Handles.
  • Frayed Caulking.
  • Weathered Exterior.
  • Diminished Gloss on Flooring.
  • Fading Window Treatments.

What Constitutes Unexpected Damages?

Unexpected damages are usually caused by misuse, neglect or incidents that exceed the regular depreciation timeline. This type of damage necessitates refurbishment or even replacement.

Some examples include:

  • Stains and Burns: These are the stains, burns, or rips that cannot be reconditioned with standard practices of cleaning or by minor amendments.
  • Broken Fixtures: Fixtures that are broken due to overuse or accidents, such as light fixtures, ceiling fans, or cabinet doors, go beyond the regular wear and tear.
  • Wall Damages: Larger holes, extensive damage, or intentional adjustments to walls, ceilings, or doors, in addition to minor scuffs and nail holes, would be regarded as unexpected damage.


When Can Landlords Use Security Deposits?

Security deposits are standard in rental contracts and are meant to safeguard landlords from potential financial risks associated with their renters. Understanding when landlords can legally utilize this money is imperative to establish a fair and honest rental relationship.

The landlords can use security deposit funding to pay the costs of mending an unexpected damage caused by renter’s neglect or misuse. This covers any repairs related to fixing, repairing or replacing any furnishings upon the moving-in of the tenant.

To promote openness and accountability, landlords must give a detailed breakdown of expenses as well as invoices for repairs.

What Are the Ways to Prevent Property Damage?

It is important for landlords to ensure that they are mindful of the potential property damages and take preemptive measures.

Given below are the two steps to deter property deterioration:

1. Tracking Damage Using Before and After Photos

Accurately noting a property's condition before and after a tenant's occupancy can considerably prevent issues over damage. Landlords should do a thorough assessment and take pictures of the property's condition before and after the property is rented to a new tenant.

These photographs serve as a point of reference for evaluating any changes that might have occurred throughout the tenancy period. When these sets of images are compared, they provide a clear visual record of any damage that happened beyond regular wear and tear.


2. Conducting Comprehensive Tenant Screening

Performing a thorough tenant screening is pivotal in reducing property damage early on. Stringer Management highlights the important role of doing background checks, contacting references, and evaluating rental history when renting out a property.

A potential tenant's track record can provide insight into their likelihood of taking appropriate care of the property. Responsible and attentive tenants allow landlords to considerably minimize potential damages beyond wear and tear and ensure a smoother rental experience.

Bottom Line

“Normal wear and tear” is an inevitable part of property management that encompasses mindful preparation and open communication between landlords and tenants. Understanding the distinctions between wear and tear and unexpected damage is critical as well as prioritizing a thorough tenant screening.

These steps enable landlords to strike a delicate balance between protecting your property and holding tenants accountable for maintaining its condition.

These services and more help us stay true to our company motto, "We treat your property as if it were our own!"

Stringer Management is committed to providing landlords with the knowledge and techniques needed to handle the complexity of rental property ownership.

As property management advances as we have established a comprehensive tenant selection procedure to ensure your property is protected and reduce possible damage caused by neglect.

Our knowledgeable representatives will be available to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We have demonstrated for over 20 years that we have a winning strategy that benefits our clients by emphasizing exceptional customer service, timeliness, and communication.

So, if you need help in resolving any conflicts due to property damage, you can rely on Stringer Management to assist. Contact us today to learn more!