For landlords, wear and tear can be tough to determine, but you need to know the difference between wear and tear and damage. Think about holes in the walls. Big holes, where it looks like someone punched the wall are definitely tenant caused and you can charge for repairing that wall out of the security deposit. However, a small hole that's from a chair being moved is considered wear and tear and you're not going to charge for something like that.
Normal things happen in the course of living in a house. There will be scuff marks here and there and there's not much you can do about it. However, if you have a towel bar in the bathroom that's hanging onto the wall by a thread, that's not normal. Tenants cannot be using towel bars as jungle gyms. Everything should be in good working order and basically, the property should be in the same condition at move out that it was in when the tenant took possession.
There are different things to look at when you're considering the difference between wear and tear and damage. Take notes and pictures during the move in process and do the same thing when the tenant moves out. That gives you the opportunity to compare the condition of the property and judge what has changed. You'll need to handle the return of the tenant's security deposit, and looking at your before and after pictures and inspections will help you manage that. If you wind up in a legal dispute with the tenant, those before and after pictures will help you describe the condition of the property to a judge.
When you give the security deposit back, you want to be fair. Explain what you expect to the tenants. For example, if you had the carpets professionally cleaned before the tenants moved in, it's reasonable to expect them to have them professionally cleaned before they move out. We always tell our tenants not to clean the carpets themselves, but to hire a professional company and then demonstrate what they did by sending us the invoice. If you left the tenants new air filters and batteries for the smoke detectors, you can expect them to replace those things for you when they move out.
When you can identify normal wear and tear, you'll be able to handle the security deposit without any problems. If you have any questions or need any assistance, please don't hesitate to contact us at Property Management Experts.