The subject of wear and tear can be a touchy one and it has been a battle for years between tenants and landlords. The problem is that what you consider to be wear and tear is probably very different from what the tenants consider to be wear and tear.
Normal wear and tear issues require fairness. You want to hold the tenants responsible for the right things. If they paint the walls pink, it’s logical to expect them to return the walls to a neutral color before they leave. If their kids are kicking holes into walls and doors, that’s not normal wear and tear, that is damage and their security deposit should be charged to fix those holes.
When the tenants move in, go through the property in detail. You want to inspect everything, from the front of the house to the back of the house without leaving a single room or corner unnoticed. If there are problems or flaws, mark t hem down on your inspection report. When the tenants move out, you will do the same thing with the same inspection report. Go through every room and closet and you’ll be able to see what has changed and where there is damage or wear and tear. Make sure you take a lot of photos during both inspections. A photo can help you compare how the place looked at move in and at move out.
Ask yourself what will hold up in court. At Property Services of Atlanta, we have been doing this for 18 years, so we have a pretty good idea of what works and what does not. For example, we expect a paint job to last for five years. So, if a tenant has been in the property for three years and it needs to be repainted, we divide the cost by five to get an accurate idea of what the tenant should have to pay for new paint. This seems to work well with our tenants and with the courts. Figure out a system and use it in every case.
Try your best to keep wear and tear issues out of court and come up with a reasonable agreement with your tenants. Always be willing to talk about your disagreements with tenants and remember that the state of Georgia has laws regarding the security deposit and the report you need to complete when you are withholding money for damages. If you are not compliant, you can lose up to three times the amount of your tenant’s security deposit. Please contact us at Property Services of Atlanta if you have any questions about how to judge wear and tear and what you should do to ensure you don’t find yourself in court.