When a tenant vacates at the end of the lease, landlords have an opportunity to assess the state of the rental property. Normal wear and tear are items related to everyday living and are to be expected. Damage or negligent abuse by the tenant, however, is not normal and can be grounds for holding the security deposit. It is important for landlords to recognize the differences between normal wear and tear and damages.
Normal wear and tear include items such as minor holes, fading paint, and floor scratches. These items occur from everyday living. For example, small holes are present if the tenant hung photos on the walls. It is customary for landlords to clean the rental property for the next tenant. Cleaning includes filling minor holes in the wall, applying a fresh coat of paint, and even waxing floors.
Damage, on the other hand, are signs of intentional abuse or neglect by the tenant. For example, unusually large holes in the walls or unapproved wallpaper or painting are not normal wear and tear. Withholding some or all of the security deposit can be grounds in order for the landlord to cover the cost to repair damages.
Landlord recordkeeping is important to maintain. Whether the unit needs repairs due to normal wear and tear or damages, landlords incur cost and should record such expenses. RentalIncomeExpense.com is free landlord accounting software. With this free accounting tool, it is easy to record rental property income and expenses that align with Schedule E categories. Reports such as Profit and Loss and Schedule E Helper guide landlords as they manage their rental properties.