As a landlord, your rental property is bound to experience some type of damage during a tenancy. This damage can either be normal wear and tear or excessive damage.
However, it may not always be easy for you to differentiate between the two types of rental damage. Consequently, you may end up in a conflict with your tenant in regards to the return of their security deposit.
Luckily for you, in today’s article, you’re going to learn everything you need to learn about rental property damage!
What Does the Term “Normal Wear and Tear” Mean?
Normal wear and tear is the expected damage that occurs to a property due to everyday use. In other words, this type of damage doesn’t occur due to abuse or negligence. You may find this more often with long-term tenants due to their length of time in the rental property.
Below are common examples of damage resulting from normal wear and tear:
- Scuffed or faded paint
- Faded curtains due to sunlight exposure
- A scruffy carpet due to normal, everyday use
- A loose door handle
- Loose grout
- Worn out silver finishes on bathroom fixtures
- Doors sticking due to humidity
- Clogging in pipes due to age
Who Is Responsible for Normal Wear and Tear?
Since damage resulting from normal wear and tear doesn’t occur due to a tenant’s negligence, the responsibility for repairs falls on the landlord.
What Is Excessive Property Damage?
This is the type of rental damage that exceeds normal wear and tear. It occurs due to negligence, carelessness, or abuse. The damage often has an impact on the usefulness, value, or function of a property’s features.
Below are examples of this type of rental damage:
- A missing or smashed bathroom mirror
- A broken or missing toilet seat
- A missing door or window, or any of their parts
- A torn carpet or linoleum
- Illegal property alterations
- A clogged toilet due to improper use
- Broken or chipped sink or bathtub
- A missing floor tile
Who Is Responsible for Excessive Property Damage?
Your tenant is! You can hold your tenant responsible for any damage resulting from their negligent or careless damage. If the tenant moves out without fixing these damages, you have a right to make appropriate deductions to their security deposit.
Michigan security deposit laws require that landlords who make deductions to their tenants’ deposits provide them with an itemized list of deductions. The itemized list must contain a money order or check for the remaining portion of the deposit.
Also, Michigan tenants have a right to a walk-through inspection. Both you and your tenant may walk through the property and document the condition of the property.
What Can Landlords Do to Minimize Rental Damage?
As a landlord, you may be able to minimize damage to your rental property in a variety of ways, including:
1. Renting to Tenants That You Have Thoroughly Screened
Only rent to tenants that have met your selection criteria. Choosing tenants arbitrarily can end up costing you somewhere down the road. Besides getting your Michigan property damaged, you may also rent to a tenant who doesn’t make timely rent payments, among other things.
Screening tenants helps you evaluate them objectively on the basis of their qualifications. Your screening criteria should be able to examine a tenant based on their:
- Income level
- Rental history
- Criminal background
- Employment history
The process should, needless to say, be devoid of any form of discrimination. It’s illegal in Michigan to reject a tenant’s rental application on the basis of their race, color, nationality, or any other protected characteristic.
2. Having a Solid Lease Agreement
A lease agreement is a legal document that contains the terms and conditions a tenant must abide by. If you draft a solid lease agreement, it’ll help protect you and your investment.
On the other hand, if it isn’t drafted properly, your tenant can take advantage of the loopholes and cause problems for you.
So, make sure your lease addresses important clauses such as:
- Details regarding rent. That is, when and where it’s due, the amount of grace period, and the amount in late fees
- Responsibility in regards to maintenance and repairs
- Whether subletting is permitted or not
- Whether a tenant can make alterations to the unit or not
- The occupancy limit
- The amount of security deposit and any other fees apart from rent
- Whether pets are allowed or not
3. Conducting Regular Inspections
Regular inspections are necessary when renting out a property. For one, they help ensure maintenance issues are discovered and fixed early. They can also help ensure you keep an eye on your tenant’s use of their rented premises. Additionally, they incentive tenants to care for their premises.
Generally, rental inspections can be categorized into four types: move in, drive-by, seasonal, and move-out. Note, however, that you cannot enter your tenant’s rented home without permission except in an emergency.
4. Investing In the Right Rental Upgrades
If you’re having a lot of maintenance calls lately, then that can be a telltale sign that it’s time to make certain upgrades. After all, everything will need to be replaced at some point.
Appliances, for instance, generally have a useful life of between 5 and 15 years. As they near the end of this time, you may begin hearing complaints regarding unresponsiveness or other other issues with their function.
When making the upgrades, you’ll want to opt for energy-efficient alternatives. These will not only be good for the environment but will also cut down on costs long-term.
5. Hire a Property Management Company
This is arguably one of the best ways to protect your Michigan property against damage. Property managers not only have tough screening processes for tenants but also know what exactly to look for during rental inspections. Nelson Property Management is the one to rely on for keeping your rental property in top shape!
Damage to a rental property is inevitable as long as it’s being rented out. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to keep the damage as minimal as possible. If you need expert help in the management of your Michigan rental, Nelson Property Management is here for you! We strive to offer the best property management services in the Metro Detroit area.