As the owner of residential rental property, it’s a given that a home or apartment unit will require cleaning when a tenant moves out in order to get it up to par for the next. But depending on how your property looks upon inspection, determining the lines between what is normal and what is excessive can become a bit blurred. So, what exactly constitutes “normal” wear and tear?
The actual definition may differ from one person to another (as well as between a tenant and a landlord). It can also differ, based on various state and local regulations. There are, however, some guidelines that can help you to determine what’s good, bad, and yes, even ugly.
For instance, light stains and shoe markings on carpet and tile is typically considered to be ok. On the other hand, burn marks and tears, as well as damage from paint or pet urine is quite another.
Likewise, minor markings and/or small nail holes on the walls can easily be cleaned or touched up. But anything that requires more in-depth repairs, such as large gouges and scrapes, can be considered excessive.
Although it would be nice to use some (or all) of a tenant’s security deposit to get the property clean for the next renter, the reality is that tenants are not responsible for normal wear and tear. So, depending on whether or not you charge them for various items could be cause for a dispute.
One way to minimize discrepancies is to use a move-in checklist whenever a new tenant signs a lease. This list – which is initialed by both the tenant and the landlord – can even spell out various items that are and aren’t acceptable, as well as what will or won’t be charged from the security deposit upon move-out.
If you’d rather leave the details to someone else, then hiring an experienced property manager can allow you to delegate the time-consuming tasks of working with tenants and fixing large and small damages to your investment(s).