Property Wear and Tear Versus Damage

Property Wear and Tear Versus Damage

One of the most common reasons why tenants’ bonds are forfeited is damage to the rental property.  However, this becomes a subject of dispute between tenants and property managers as renters are responsible for damage but not for ordinary wear and tear.  How do we distinguish damage from wear and tear?

Property Wear and Tear Versus DamageWear and tear can be defined as the deterioration and decline that happens in a property over the passage of time and due to daily use.  Property includes the property’s features and furnishings, both internal and external.  It’s considered as wear and tear when it’s something not under the control of the tenant and not because of neglect, carelessness or irresponsibility.

Damage, however, refers to excessive wear and tear due to misuse and neglect.  Anything lost or harmed in the property and which the tenant could have prevented will be considered damage.  In this case, the repair expenses can be taken out of the renter’s bond deposit.

Here are common examples to highlight the differences between Wear and tear and Damage:

Wear and Tear Damage
♦ Worn down or faded carpet ♦ Stains, tears or burns on carpet
♦ Light smudges on walls or faded paint ♦ Marks and holes in walls
♦ Minor marks or warping of door ♦ Anything broken or missing on the doors
♦ Sticking windows ♦ Anything broken or missing on the windows
♦ Rusty appliance parts ♦ Broken appliances or missing parts
♦ Cracked grout on tile flooring ♦ Broken tiles on flooring
♦ Destruction due to natural disasters ♦ Yard not properly maintained with dead plants or trees

To prevent disputes on normal wear and tear and damage, property managers and tenants need to practice good communication.  Expectations need to be set before the start of the lease on the property’s condition before and after the tenancy.  Documents and checklists should be provided.  Tenants should actively inform the property manager if anything happens on the property that would require repairs or if they notice anything out of the ordinary.

It’s important to note that the examples we mentioned do not cover all possibilities.  Situations may sometimes happen that are difficult to classify as either wear and tear or damage.  However, conflict can be still avoided if tenants and property managers can talk things through.

Image by perthhdproductions on Flickr

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