PROPERTY OWNER’S HANDBOOK TO NORMAL WEAR & TEAR IN RENTALS
What is normal wear & tear?
At the end of each tenancy, landlords must inspect the property and bring it to its preoccupied state to rent it again. The definition of “normal wear and tear” can vary from state to state. In Florida Law, there are no specifics regarding this term. So, there are two requirements that can apply to that. First, it should be a wearout of the property that resulted from using it. Second, the deterioration or damage must not have been caused by a tenant, tenant’s guests, or the property owner. So, for example, fading paint due to sunlight, or light scratches and stains on countertops, or dirt and grout around tiles flooring. If the damage doesn’t fit both of the requirements, the case counts as “property damage”.
Some examples of Normal Wear and Tear and Property Damage:
What is included in routine maintenance?
If you plan to order a professional cleaning service for your unit, you cannot charge prior tenants for cleaning fees. But if the unit wasn’t cleaned by the tenants during the whole rental period, you are able to request payment for cleaning fees. If you expect tenants to clean the house prior to moving out, make sure to put it in the lease agreement.
- Flooring/ carpet
You cannot charge prior tenants for steam carpet cleaning after the move-out. However, if the tenants stained the carpet or scratched the floor beyond repair level, you can request the cleaning/repair fees. If the floor was in bad condition when tenants moved in, you can not charge them for repairs/cleaning.
If your tenant left walls stained/dirty or repainted them without your approval, most likely you will need to repaint them sooner than expected, unless you did it before move-in. In this case, you will be allowed to take money for repainting from the security deposit. If tenants live in the property for 3 or more years, repainting is going to be under the property maintenance and you won’t be able to charge your tenants for that.
- Light bulbs
All the lamps in the rental property should be equipped with working light bulbs prior to tenants’ move-in. Afterward, when bulbs would break down, tenants are required to change them and make sure that all of them work upon move-out. However, long, fluorescent cylinder lights, or any light intended to keep going for years of persistent use, ought to be supplanted by the property manager/owner.
What is the life expectancy of the main rental property’s components?
The life expectancy of the unit’s features depends on several aspects, such as brand, material, quality, etc. The list of average life expectancy of house features:
Water heaters: 10 years
Carpeting: 5 years
A/C: 10 years
Ranges: 20 years
Refrigerators: 10 years
Painting: enamel – 5 years; flat – 3 years
Tiles or linoleum: 5 years
Shades, Screens, and Blinds: 3 years
Why is taking pictures of the apartment prior to moving in helpful?
Taking photos of the property prior to rental is necessary and sometimes helpful for both tenants and landlords. Pictures that were taken before a tenancy can be used as proof later. For example, if something breaks during tenancy, the landlord can have a reason to take money from the tenant’s security deposit. Use the images as evidence that there were some damages before your move-in.