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What is routine “wear and tear” by tenants versus destruction?

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2022 | Residential Real Estate |

If you are a landlord, you see signs of daily wear in tenants’ apartments all the time. These are usually fairly minor, pretty easily fixed and just plain unavoidable. Outright damage, however, is something else entirely. It is usually caused by “abuse or neglect.”

Being able to differentiate one from the other is essential for landlords. The difference is key because you can hang onto someone’s security deposit for the latter. Tenants can be held responsible for paying for the damage they cause.

Examples of typical “wear and tear”

Some examples arising from everyday use are things such as these:

  •         Door handles that are not snugly attached anymore
  •         The finish on bathroom fixtures is worn, dull or scratched
  •         Grout appears grimy
  •         Wood flooring has some scratches, nicks or scuff marks
  •         Carpet has inconspicuous stains
  •         Rugs have gotten faded

Unless a tenant barely uses everything, and is incredibly careful every minute of every day, these unintentional indications of use happen.

What constitutes damage?

Damage is more severe, can be deliberate and does not stem from the habitual use of fixtures or furnishings.

Some instances of damage are:

  •         A toilet seat that got broken
  •         Door locks or handles that are missing or not functioning
  •         Animal urine saturating floors or rugs
  •         A mirror that is smashed in the bathroom
  •         A door with a hole in it

Returning or retaining a tenant’s security deposit

You and your tenant may not see eye to eye about damage. They might claim they did nothing wrong and insist on getting all of their security deposit back when they depart. You, however, intend to use it to pay for any damage they incurred. If a dispute like this arises, you may want to ask a professional versed in these matters how to proceed.