Being a landlord comes with its own set of responsibilities and obligations. Many of these responsibilities are dictated by county and state law. One notable law being Florida’s security deposit laws.
A point of contention between landlords and tenants can be the definition of normal wear and tear and how it impacts the retention of the security deposit. If not handled professionally and legally, the matter may have to be handled in a court of law. So, what is the difference between “normal wear and tear” and property damage?
This article will define normal wear and tear and explain the differences between it and property damage. Both tenants and landlords need to understand these terms to ensure that all parties are abiding by the state’s rental laws.
Unpacking ‘Normal Wear and Tear’
Nailing down an exact definition can be difficult. But one thing that landlords must acknowledge is that a property will inevitably depreciate with continued use. Normal depreciation comes with daily or frequent use of appliances, utilities, and the tenant’s movement within the space or property.
To help out Tampa landlords and tenants, here are some examples of normal wear and tear:
- Scuffed marks on the wood flooring from continued use
- Faded carpet
- Chips, dents, scrapes, and small nail holes in the walls
- Scratched or worn-out enamel in the toilets, sinks, or bathtubs
- Squeaky or noisy door and cabinet hinges
- Appliances no longer in a new condition. All appliances have a shelf life.
Understanding Property Damage
In most cases, property damage is caused by neglect or abuse and results in a loss of the property’s value. Here are some examples of property damage:
- Cracked or completely broken windows.
- Damaged appliances as a result of neglect or obvious abuse
- Cracked tiles in the bathroom or kitchen
- Burns and stains on the carpet.
- Large holes in the walls
As you can see from the examples provided, there is quite some difference between normal wear and tear and property damage.
Retaining the Tenant’s Security Deposit
The purpose of the security deposit is to protect the landlord from damage that may be above and beyond the perimeters of normal wear and tear. The deposit can either be retained in part or as a whole. The money from the deposit goes towards replacing or repair of fixtures, fitting, appliances, and other utilities.
In the instance that a landlord retains part or all of the security deposit, Florida State Laws have provisions that need to be followed. Florida law states that the landlord should prepare and give the tenant written notice within 30 days of terminating the lease. The notice is should be sent to the tenant’s last known address and must explain the reason for retaining part or all of the deposit.
It’s recommended that landlords and tenants read Florida Statute 83.49 which touches on matters relating to deposits and advanced rent payments. Being on the right side of the law will protect all parties from legal issues down the line.
Take Photos of the Unit
It is recommended that both landlords and the tenants take photos of the rental property during the move-in process. The security deposit is a contentious issue and the photos can serve as proof for both parties about what damage was already in the property before the move in. The proof of photos allows for either the landlord or tenant to argue their case and allow for reasonable and logical dialogue.
Managing Normal Wear and Tear
When your property is vacant you are going to need to make the unit renter ready. This means cleaning the spaces and making small repairs to get them ready for the next tenant.
Here are some steps to take when preparing for a new tenant to move in:
You should hire a professional cleaning company to clean every inch of the property especially if the previous tenant left it in bad condition.
Without a doubt, your walls won’t have the same shine or gleam as they did before. In addition, the walls might have nail holes, scuff marks from furniture, or dirt and grime. If cleaning the walls doesn’t freshen up the spaces sufficiently, landlords should consider putting a new coat of paint on the walls.
It is the landlord’s responsibility to have all lightbulbs working before a new tenant moves in. Once the new tenant moves in, however, this responsibility will shift to them.
Appliances and Products
Appliances and other household products will deteriorate over time, with frequent use. Manufacturers typically indicate the life expectancy of their products. This can help you gauge how long you have until you need to replace the item. However, with reasonable maintenance, these products and appliances can last even longer.
That being said, if at the time the tenant moves out an appliance is damaged, the tenant cannot be charged for the full cost of its replacement. You might need to take into consideration the remaining shelf life of the asset in question.
Hire an Experienced Property Management Company
When you hire a professional property management company, like Cavalier Estates LLC, you benefit from their industry knowledge and expertise. They can answer your questions regarding normal wear and tear and ensure that you follow security despite laws.
It’s important to follow Florida’s rental and security deposit laws to protect your Tampa property. Knowing the definition of normal wear and tear and understanding how it differs from property damage will help protect you and your investments.
If you have more questions about this, or any other facet of property management Cavalier Estates LLC works closely with clients to optimize their investment. Thanks to their experience and industry knowledge, clients can rely on them to offer sound and professional advice.
Get in touch with the team of real estate professionals at Cavalier Estates LLC today and learn how they can help you!