The term “normal wear and tear” is commonly used in the rental market. This term typically refers to the reasonable and expected depreciation of the property as a result of normal use.

As a rental property owner, knowing what is considered as normal wear and tear is crucial. This can help you determine the maintenance and repairs that are due to reasonable wear and tear, and the ones that are due to neglect and abuse.

When you run a rental business, wear and tear is usually a landlord’s responsibility to fix. But the tenant should be held accountable for any damage to the property that is caused by a tenant’s negligence or abusive behavior.

But most of the time, being able to identify the difference between normal wear and tear and tenant-caused damages can be confusing. Which is why we at Mark Thomas Property Management have put together this guide, as well as the damages that can be considered part of normal wear and tear.

normal depreciation

Determining What Is Normal Wear and Tear

Based on state and federal law, the term “normal wear and tear” is defined as the expected depreciation or deterioration of a rental property and its fixtures, including landlord-supplied appliances and furniture. The deterioration is expected to happen over time as a result of the ordinary use of the property and its fixtures, including appliances and furniture.

Daily use of a property causes an inevitable physical decline. This is why it is important to keep renters happy, perform regular inspections and maintenance to keep the property in its best condition and prevent further damage. The deterioration can happen over the course of occupancy, so you can expect more wear and tear the longer the property is occupied.

On the other hand, property damage that is not part of normal wear and tear is typically caused by an occupant’s abusive behavior or negligence. Unexpected damage can cause the value of the property to decline, and it can also negatively affect its usefulness and normal functioning.

Examples of Normal Wear and Tear

A rental home will eventually deteriorate due to constant use. As the property is occupied and used, you can expect a normal decline in the physical attributes of the property. For instance, some fixtures may not function as effectively as before, and some paints will also naturally chip off.

You can expect to see dulling and discoloration on floors because they are constantly walked on. Here are the most common examples of normal wear and tear that you can anticipate for your rental property:

  • Paint: Over time, the paint on your walls and fixtures will become faded and dull. If this is not maintained on a regular basis, the paint may even crack or chip off.
  • Wallpaper: If your rental property has wallpaper, you can expect it to be faded or even torn. This is part of the normal wear and tear as long as it happens gradually. However, if a tenant deliberately tears the wallpaper off or writes on them, then it is no longer part of normal wear and tear.
  • Floors: As mentioned, the floor will be dull or have a slight discoloration because it is constantly walked on. You can anticipate having to recoat your floor with varnish every now and then to maintain its luster.
  • Carpet: Just like the floor, you can expect the carpet to become faded and have scratches over time.
  • Door: The door hives may become loose because users need to open and close them regularly. Also, you can expect doors to stick due to humidity or house shifting.
  • Windowpanes: If your windowpanes become cracked due to fault foundation, then it can be considered normal wear and tear. But if the crack is due to abusive use, then the tenant should be accountable for its repair.
  • Bathroom: The bathroom is one of the most common rooms that need regular maintenance. As part of normal wear and tear, you will notice worn enamel in sinks, toilets, and bathtubs. In such a case this would require rennovation.
  • Bathroom tiles: You may also see loose grouting around bathroom tiles. This will become worse if not maintained regularly.
  • Pipes: Aging pipes may cause partially clogged sinks. But if the tenant is misusing the sinks (for example, they are flushing small particles of garbage through the sink), then it should not be considered reasonable wear and tear.

bathroom tile repair

Examples of Damages Caused by Tenants

Unexpected damage refers to the damage on the property that is not part of expected normal wear and tear. Usually, these are tenant-caused damages due to negligence, abusive behavior, or accident.

For these damages, you can charge the cost of repairs to the tenants or deduct the cost from their security deposits. Here are a few examples:

  • Carpet: If the carpet has stains or burns, it is no longer part of normal wear and tear.
  • Floors: Chipped flooring is usually caused by abuse or neglect. The floor will not chip with ordinary use.
  • Doors: If doors have ripped off hinges, it could be due to a tenant’s abuse or misuse.
  • Windows: Broken or severely damaged windows are usually accidental or done on purpose.
  • Toilet: Improper use of the toilet can cause it to clog.
  • Bathroom: If you see chipped or broken enamel on the sink or bathtub, this may be a result of inappropriate use.

fixing a broken sink

Some damages are not caused by tenants, but they are due to structural issues and faulty foundations. These damages include:

  • Cracked roofs or ceilings may be due to cheap materials used
  • A faulty or inadequate design may result in the need for constant repairs
  • Unmaintained pipes and plumbing can also cause severe damage

Bottom Line

As a landlord, It is your responsibility to keep your property habitable at all times. So, performing regular maintenance and repairs is not only essential for your profitability but it is also required by the law.

If you have anymore questions about “Wear and Tear” or any other aspect of property management, please contact us at Mark Thomas Property Management today!