Is It Damage or Is It Wear and Tear?

Every time a tenant vacates a property, the issue arises of what constitutes damage inflicted by the tenant (which is the tenant’s responsibility) and what constitutes normal wear and tear (which is the owner’s responsibility). There’s a sizable security deposit at stake, and each party wants to put it to his own uses: the landlord to cover the expenses of getting the property ready to be leased again, and the tenant as a deposit on another rental. It’s no surprise, say professionals in property management in Grand Rapids, that the two rarely see eye-to-eye.


Obviously, the longer a person lives in a property, the more the wear and tear. Even after just one year it’s evident that a house has been lived in: smudges, handprints, worn carpets, dull floors. It’s impossible to maintain a home in pristine condition and still live comfortably in it. Managers expect that when a person moves out, fresh paint and carpet cleaning will be necessary. This is not uncommon.


Damage, on the other hand, is fairly recognizable: a missing gate, a missing doorknob or window latch, a torn screen, a broken appliance. Anything that was present and functioning properly, and is now missing or in need of replacement, can probably be classified as damage, which is what a security deposit is intended to cover. Even so, a withheld security deposit too often becomes a small claims court case, so to prevail you’ll need to provide the court with compelling photographic evidence of how the property looked before and after the tenancy.


Although we strive for quality tenants it’s inevitable that at some point you will have property damage happen, and when these things happen it can be a great advantage to have a professional property management company to help you through the process and make sure all the details are covered. Whether it’s simply documenting the damage or taking care of small courts claims, Access Property Management Group has the expertise to make every situation easier.

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Justin Bajema

Justin Bajema, CPM® is the Founder & President of Access Investment Group, LLC and Access Property Management Group, LLC. His love for everything Real Estate and business began with one book back sent to him while he was returning back from the war in Iraq in 2003, "Rich Dad Poor Dad" by Robert Kiyosaki. Justin is a proud U.S. Marine combat veteran who served 2 tours in Iraq as an infantryman. He received the Purple Heart from Commander in Chief President George Bush for his wounds received in action while serving with the 24th MEU in Iraq. Justin Bajema, | Founder & President