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Know The Difference between General Wear & Tear and Tenant Damage

By Liam O'Boyle

Regularly throughout the tenancy and again at the end of a tenancy, our property managers inspect a property in order to assess if any repairs or maintenance work needs to be carried out before new tenants move in. If previous tenants have caused any damage, they are responsible for covering some or all of the costs of repair – however it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between what could either be tenant damage (intentional or not), or the general depreciation of a property; which happens naturally but can be slowed by regular cleaning and upkeep.

Before inspection, several things should be taken into account before deciding the cause of any damage:

-The age of the property is a factor, as older houses are more prone to mould, condensation and ventilation issues, as well as succumbing to the natural aging process.

-The number of previous tenants – through no fault of their own, a family of eight will cause a bit more general wear and tear than a family of three or four.

-Unreported maintenance and irregular cleaning can degrade a property a lot quicker than what may naturally occur. Regular inspections and education of the tenants about suitable or recommended cleaning habits and equipment will ensure the lasting life of a property. Through acceleration of damage by not reporting problems or failing to regularly clean surfaces, a tenant may be responsible for partly contributing to the cost of any necessary repairs.

Examples of general or “fair” wear and tear

Small cracks can appear on walls and ceilings, caused by the natural movement that occurs as the materials in a property expand and contract. Paint and wallpaper can chip and peel, especially if they are older, and the exterior paint, wood or brick of a property can fade after decades of exposure to the sun. Fading can also occur on curtains and carpets, which degrades their lifespan.

Everything wears out eventually. Carpet can thin and fray (especially in main entrances and hallways) and door handles and hinges can become squeaky or loose. Hardwood floors and linoleum may suffer minor scrapes and scuffing, however keep in mind that regular upkeep can keep these things at bay. Unless there are obvious signs of abusive use, hardware and furnishings can also be expected to degrade over their lifetime.

Water-stained linoleum around a shower or in a laundry room, a running toilet, black spots forming on a mirror and protective coatings on porcelain wearing thin can also be classified as general wear, especially if the tenants have been proactive with regular cleaning.

Examples of tenant damage

Large cracks and holes in walls and doors, ripped and largely stained carpet or curtains are not deemed natural and are usually caused by tenants. Other examples of tenant induced damage include:

-Cigarette burns
-Broken tiles
-Mirrors caked with makeup and lipstick
-Toilets blocked by un-flushable objects
-Crayon marks or writing on walls
-Stains and odours caused by pets
-Broken mirrors or glass
-Other obviously broken hardware or furnishings

Tenants that leave the property in an excessively filthy state or leave personal belongings behind can also be expected to contribute to ‘damage’ expenses. A thorough tenant screening process, such as the one carried out by McPherson Property Management, ensures fewer instances of trouble and damage caused by tenants.

McPherson makes it easy

Our experienced property managers are trained to tell the difference between damage and general wear and tear. We look after tenants and properties in our charge and in doing so ensure a harmonious and open relationship between property managers, tenants and property owners.

Are you ready to try the McPherson experience? Contact us today with any questions you have or to book a free rental appraisal.

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