What Exactly is “Normal Wear and Tear”?

As an investment owner, you’ll encounter the term normal wear and tear frequently. But what does it mean? Normal wear and tear represents a natural and gradual decline in the value of your vacation rental due to its continued use by the tenants. This is an expected outcome that cannot be blamed on tenants.

Being a rental property owner, it's your responsibility to deal with the normal wear and tear damages. It’s therefore important that landlords understand the difference between reasonable wear and tear and excessive property damage borne from tenant neglect.

Failure to differentiate between the two could result in landlords paying to fix all types of rental property damages. This can be unfair since you’re only obliged to pay for repairs or replacements that occur as a result of wear and tear.

This article will highlight the differences between normal wear and tear and serious damage. Learning to tell the two apart can make it easier to determine who’s responsible for paying the repair costs.

What is Normal Wear and Tear?

Wear and tear can be categorized differently depending on one’s State. However, as a whole, it can pertain to the predicted deterioration of a residence due to occupancy over a given period of time.

It’s easy to expect a certain level of deterioration in your rental resulting from a tenant’s continued use of the space. It’s unrealistic to expect your vacation rental will look the same after 5 years of use compared to the first year it began to be occupied.

wear and tear

One can naturally expect that the wood flooring and paint to look duller over time. There will also likely be scratches and tiny marks on the kitchen counters and the appliances won’t be looking new anymore. Walking on the carpets, and used the appliances and fixtures around the unit is bound to result in natural deterioration over time as well.

The longer a tenant is staying in the rental and the more people pass through, the more you can expect wear and tear to occur. Some examples of normal wear and tear include:

  • Faded wallpaper or paint
  • Cracked wall paint
  • Dull wooden floors that need varnishing
  • Faded carpet
  • Sticky doors
  • Small carpet stains
  • Loose door handles
  • Light scratches on the counters and floors

What is Considered Serious Damage?

Serious damage can refer to issue that impact the overall value and function of the rental home. It can be caused by abuse or neglect rather than from daily living.

One can attribute serious rental property damage to be intentionally committed, done out of neglectful behavior or due to an accident. For instance, it’s out of the ordinary to find doors ripped from their hinges or walls covered in graffiti.

Some are examples of serious property damage include:

  • Carpet burns or large stains
  • Chipped flooring
  • Broken windows
  • Missing or broken tiles
  • Torn curtains
  • Missing blinds
  • Cracked toilets
  • Large holes in the walls

property damage

Is Property Damage Always a Result of Neglect?

Although it’s normal to associate serious damages to a tenant, this isn’t always the case. Owners can also be guilty of committing long-term serious damage out of neglect in their maintenance duties. The tenant might have also put off basic repairs which can then lead to excessive damage.

It is part of your responsibilities as a investment owner to ensure that your rentals always comply with all health, safety, and building codes. You’re responsible for providing your tenant with a suitable and safe environment to stay in.

When Can Owners Use the Security Deposit?

In the event that a tenant causes serious damage to the rental during their stay, beyond the bounds of normal wear and tear, you can then dip into the tenant's security deposit to cover the repair charges.

Naturally, this can cause a lot of friction between landlords and tenants. Therefore it’s important that you understand security deposit laws and provide clear reasoning for your decision before making any deductions.

How to Document Property Damages?

If landlords want to avoid potential issues down the line then including a move-in and move-out inspection can help keep you clearly identify who's at fault for any potential damage. Bring a checklist during the inspections to ensure the landlord covered every area of the rental space.

repairs to rental property

It’s also important to have a conversation with the tenant regarding your expectations for them when it comes to reasonably maintaining the rental during their stay.

Depending on local policies, the landlord might choose to document through photos to check the before and after property condition. Performing a final walk-through when the rental period ends will also make investigating the damages easier. This way, you can clearly assign the cost of property damage repair.

Make note of the items that need to be fixed and the estimated costs of each. The landlord can then send this list to the tenant along with the photos if you’ve taken any. This is required when the landlord only refunds the security deposit partially or keep the entire deposit to cover for serious damages found in the rental.

How Can Your Reduce Property Damages?

It’s advisable to implement a rigorous screening process. This can aid in evaluating whether a tenant is fit to be accepted into the rental. Check for records of violent behavior and review the rental history in detail. You should also contact previous property owners to learn more about the potential tenant.


Now that you have a better understanding of normal wear and tear you can better protect yourself and your property! If you would like any help with your rentals, reach out to a qualified property management company today.

Suncastle Property Management is a trusted service provider in Florida. To ensure your peace of mind and maximize your ROI content their team today!

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