As a professional Phoenix property management company, we have a lot of experience inspecting properties after move-out and returning security deposits to tenants. Our expertise is a huge resource for the owners and investors we work with because the difference between tenant damage and normal wear and tear isn’t always easy to identify.
Usually, landlords think everything is damage and they want to hold tenants financially accountable. Tenants often think everything is normal wear and tear and will usually claim they left the property in perfect condition.
Today, we’re helping you understand the difference.
Phoenix Property Management: Normal Wear and Tear vs. Damage
At the very basic definition, normal wear and tear occurs when items age or deteriorate. This will happen to paint and carpet in a home no matter who is living there. Landlords are responsible for general wear and tear items; you’ll have to pay to get the property ready for a new tenant, and that will usually include things like painting and carpet cleaning. You cannot charge a tenant’s security deposit for those tiny holes in the walls from where pictures are hung. You cannot charge for scuff marks on the floors and the walls from furniture.
Damage, by definition, is anything that’s a result of negligence, abuse, or carelessness. Something like a broken dishwasher door could be accidental, but it’s still damage. These are things that tenants are required to pay for, and the cost is deducted from the security deposit at the end of the lease term.
Phoenix Property Management: Lifespans and Lifecycles
Here’s a useful chart that shows how long you can expect things to last, and what it looks like when they’re damaged or simply the outcome of normal deterioration.
Average Useful Life
Normal Wear and Tear
|Carpet||5 years||Gently worn without holes/stains||Pet stains, holes|
|Tile Floor||25 years||Dirty grout||Broken or chipped|
|Windows||20 years||Lightly scratched glass||Broken glass, hardware|
|Countertops||20+years||Scratches and watermarks||Chipped, burnt, stains|
|Paint||3 years||Faded, minor scuffing||Markers, re-paints|
Documenting Move-in and Move-out Condition
A move-in inspection and checklist is critical in order to compare the condition of the property to its move-out condition. When you work with a Phoenix property management company, you can expect that a thorough survey will be conducted to effectively protect your property and distinguish between wear and tear and damage at the end of the tenancy.
One of the benefits to having this completed by a Phoenix property manager is that professionals stay up to date on the legal requirements and shifts in court trends. You want to know what a judge will think if a tenant disputes your security deposit charges and takes you to court.
Collecting an Adequate Security Deposit
It’s important to think about the potential for damage when you’re collecting a security deposit. Your marketing should reflect what you’ll require in terms of move-in funds so tenants know what to expect. Arizona limits the security deposit to 1.5 times the monthly rent. The security deposit is used for damage as well as other allowable expenses such as unpaid rent, late fees, and lease violations.
Prevent Tenant Damage with Routine Inspections
Once you’ve placed a qualified Phoenix tenant, it’s a good idea to inspect the home once or twice a year. You’ll be able to look for deferred or unreported maintenance, and you can talk to your tenant about how things are going at the property. There’s less of a chance you’ll be surprised by unexpected damage when you’re walking through the property at least annually.
We can always help you with your Phoenix property management needs, including the move-in and move-out condition reports and the determination about what should be considered wear and tear and what is actually tenant damage. Contact our team at Bennett Property Management for more information.