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Tenant Damage: Normal Wear and Tear, or Excessive?

Damages are something that every property owner will deal with during the course of renting out their property.  Over time, carpets get stained and worn, walls can get scuffed, and grout comes loose.  When these damages become excessive or intentional, it causes issues for not only other renters but also the property owner.

Security Deposits Can Deter Excessive Damage

Collecting a security deposit has many benefits to property owners.  Once a renter pays their deposit, they are considerably less likely to back out of a lease.  Renters who feel more invested in their rental property will take better care of the home.

If a renter maintains the property well, and they take the time to return the rental to the state they received it in, they can usually expect to receive their deposit back.  Investing money in the location is motivating for the renter, so they will clean the property and care for it better when they are staying there.

Security deposits can protect the owner as well.  In many cases, the security deposit will will help cover the cost of excessive damages instead of the owner having to pay entirely out of their own pockets.  Many renters will complete a lease to receive their deposit back.

You Can Spot Trouble Early with Inspections

Weather-related damages can occur anywhere, and usually it’s up to the property owner to cover the cost. Other than acts of nature, you can generally break damages down to two categories: excessive damages, and normal wear and tear.

Normal wear and tear is damage that occurs to a property over time naturally and is something that should be defined clearly in your lease with your potential renter.  Things like faded paint, holes in the walls from hanging pictures, and worn carpet from foot traffic typically aren’t taken out of a security deposit and are usually covered at the expense of the property owner at the time of move out.  If these items are clearly outlined in your lease, there is no confusion with your renter when it comes time for the move-out inspection of the property.

Move-in inspections can be crucial to protecting your Sarasota property and your tenant’s security deposit. Doing a thorough walkthrough with your tenant before move-in can reveal any problems or last-minute work that may need to be done to your property.

It also allows a tenant to ask specific questions about the property. If a light switch appears inoperable, does it work with one of the outlets on the wall? Is the shower head usually that rusty, or is that something that needs to be replaced? They might even ask how to use appliances that are new or unfamiliar to them. Finishing this walkthrough before the tenant moves in protects the owner against damages that may occur during move-in, like large dents in walls or excessive staining on the carpeting.

The move-out inspection works much like the move-in inspection, only backward.  Once the tenant removes all of their items from the property, they can go through with the owner and compare their move-in list to the current state of the property.

The inspection helps the owner determine if there is any damage that could be considered excessive or if the renter has returned the property with the standard normal wear and tear damages.  Any damage that is deemed extensive can then be addressed directly with the tenant. It also allows the property owner to track the repairs to the rental that need to be addressed before their next prospective tenant moves in.

Excessive damages are an unfortunate reality.  Some careless renters cause damage and choose never to get it fixed.  Children break windows or closet doors, and pets can cause excessive odors or claw up carpeting. When a security deposit is collected, a Sarasota property owner can subtract the cost of those damages from their renter’s deposit and offset the cost of the repairs for the owner.

Under the law in Sarasota and Manatee counties,  the owner is required to return the remaining security deposit 15 to 60 days after the renter has vacated their property unless the owner intends to file a claim for damages. Conducting a move out inspection prepares your tenant for the potential not to receive any or all of their security deposit.

Damages to a property owner’s rental investment are an inevitable challenge.  Renters cause normal wear and tear, accidental damage, and sometimes substantial damages to properties.  A property manager can help you decide which of these damages are to be expected and which damages should be deemed excessive. To learn more tips about being a better landlord, download our free guide. We cover basics from marketing your property, maintenance, and even some laws you should be aware of.  Click the link below for your free guide!

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