Austin Property Management Blog

Wear & Tear vs. Damage to a Rental Home - What is the Difference?

Grant Williams - Thursday, March 18, 2021

Over the years of owning a rental property in Austin, there is a reasonable amount of deterioration that is expected to occur as your property ages. This is referred to as ‘wear & tear’ and is something all homes face - rental property or not. 

As the owner of a property, this wear & tear that occurs isn’t your fault, nor is your tenant responsible for this property deterioration over time, but the damage done to the property is not the same as ‘wear & tear’. Anyone responsible for damages to the property is financially obligated to fix the issues - even tenants. 

Defining Normal ‘Wear & Tear’ in Regards to Your Austin Rental Home

Your property is being used every day, and just like anything that receives that type of use, you can expect the property’s condition to decline via normal wear & tear. This is not caused by abuse or neglect, but rather just living in the property over time.

Examples of normal wear and tear in a rental home include:

  • Carpet faded or worn thin from walking and regular use

  • Light scrapes and dings in wood floor

  • Color of carpet or hardwood fading due to exposure to sunlight

  • Worn or scratched enamel in bathtubs, sinks, or toilets

  • Doors that stick or jam due to foundational shifts, humidity, etc

  • Any worn appliances due to use over time

  • Faded paint or slightly torn, faded wallpaper

  • Dirty grout on tiles in the bathroom and on the floor

  • Loose door handles

  • The finish on metallic items fading over time

These are just a few examples of normal wear and tear you might experience with your Austin rental home. If you assess your rental home and notice signs of this wear and tear on your home don’t be alarmed as it happens to all homes. Landlords will be financially responsible for correcting any issues to the home caused by normal wear and tear. 

Defining Property Damage in Regards to Your Austin Rental Home

So while your rental home will experience normal wear and tear over time, it doesn’t necessarily need to experience property damage. If you’re facing property damage at your rental home the silver lining is that the tenant is more than likely responsible, and therefore on the hook for any costs that go towards repairing the property damage. This will typically be deducted from the security deposit once the lease has finished and the landlord is able to walk and assess the property for any damage. You can learn more about security deposits for Austin rental properties on our site. 

Examples of property damage in a rental home:

  • Gaping holes in the wall or dozens of nail holes

  • Smashed/shattered mirrors

  • Unapproved paint colors, wall paper, or unprofessional paint jobs

  • Holes, stains, or burns in carpet (e.g. from food, urine, or colored liquids)

  • Chipped, gouged or wood floors showing large scratches beyond normal use. 

  • Water stains on wood floors or in window sills

  • Broken windows and doors due to abuse

  • Mold left behind in the home

  • Missing or cracked tiles throughout the home

  • Damaged appliances due to abuse or neglect

These are all examples of property damage you may find in an Austin rental home but not everything that can be considered 'property damage' is listed here. 

Defining the difference between the two is important. Once a tenant moves out of your rental property you will need to assess the home for damages and depending on your assessment you will need to know whether you can deduct from your tenant’s security deposit or not. 

If what you’re assessing is normal ‘wear & tear’ you will not be able to deduct any costs that go into these repairs from your previous tenant’s security deposit. If you’re assessing what is clearly property damage on your rental home you will be able to deduct any costs that go into repairing this damage on your property from the security deposit. 

The ‘wear & tear’ vs property damage debate can lead to disputes between landlords and tenants. Be sure to document any and all damages you assess for your property upon tenant move out so that you have evidence on hand to support any decision you make when deciding if it’s ‘wear & tear’ or property damage. Tenants should also be sure to document the condition of the property upon move out to make sure all parties can reference this in the event of any dispute with security deposits. 

To learn how this process is handled by property management in Austin, contact Stone Oak Property Management today!

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13497 N Highway 183, Ste. 700
Austin, TX 78750

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