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Breaking Down Wear and Tear

· Palo Alto California,Scott Safadi,housingforgoogle,San Jose,sunnyvale

Wear and tear is a phrase used often in the property management industry. Used to describe the normal deterioration of a property over time, it's often pointed to by tenants moving out and eager to get their security deposit back in spite of damages. Just what is "normal" wear and tear, though? Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management urges all property managers to understand the difference between wear and tear and actual damage.

Everyday use of any item can result in a slow deterioration of its value. Even when treated with care, an apartment can show signs of aging and use after even a few months. Normal signs of wear and tear include small stains on the carpet, dirty grout, sun-lightened carpet near windows, loose door handles, dings to the hardwood floor and silver finishes slowly beginning to wear away on fixtures.

Damage, on the other hand, is a lot more obvious. They're the things that jump out at you, like broken window panes, holes in the walls, a smashed mirror or a carpet that stinks of pet urine. These kinds of damages aren't considered normal because frankly, they're easily avoidable. Tenants with these kinds of damages can and should be held financially responsible for the impact they've had on the apartment.

Of course, differentiating between normal wear and tear and actual damage isn't easy. For every obvious form of damage like a smashed mirror, you have things like holes in the wall from mounting a TV to chipped paint from hanging photos. Like most tough decisions you'll make as a property manager, determining what qualifies as wear and tear versus damage may simply come down to your discretion.

Why bother understanding the distinction? It'll come in handy when your tenants decide to move out. Their security deposit depends on the condition in which they leave their unit. By having a thorough understanding between what constitutes damage versus what's just normal wear and tear, you can make just decisions about your tenant's security deposit. Fail to do so and you could find yourself fighting an uphill battle against a tenant scored.

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

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