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What is ‘normal’ wear and tear - and what is tenant damage?

Properties, like people, age. Whether they age well is up to you and your tenant. 

A little wear and tear is normal for any occupied unit. A cracked tile, some peeling paint – these are all to be expected when someone lives in a home. But when does reasonable wear and tear cross the line into unreasonable damage? 

That’s a question that’s been hotly debated as landlords and tenants rarely agree on where to draw the line, and who takes responsibility. Normal wear is the responsibility of the landlord, but it’s up to the tenant to make good on any damage they’ve caused.

If they don’t, landlords can start eviction proceedings. 

What is ‘normal’ wear and tear - and what is damage?

Essentially, wear and tear covers anything that happens with reasonable use of a premises. If you’re walking on a carpet, day after day, month after month, it’s going to scuff. If you open a window a few times a week for a year, paint might start flaking off the sill.

Conversely, anything outside normal use can be considered damage. For example, if you repeatedly slam your windows and at the end of the lease don't latch, that’s not exactly normal use of the window. Likewise, dropping a lighter on the carpet and burning a hole through it is, again, not normal use.

While you obviously can’t plan ahead for damage, you can – and should – mitigate the effects of normal wear and tear with regular maintenance. Landlords are expected to keep their units in a reasonable condition for their tenants, so they should be scheduling regular repairs and checks. 

What are the options for landlords if tenants damage the unit?

 If the worst happens and the unit gets damaged, landlords have to decide what steps to take next. According to law, tenants are liable for “undue” damage, caused by “willful or negligent conduct”. And it doesn’t matter if it was someone else – it’s still the tenant’s responsibility if the damage was caused by their guest, or another occupant of the property. 

This provision also covers not just damage in the unit, but damage in common areas such as the hallway, elevator, stairway, or parking area. 

Once landlords have established damage caused by the tenant or their guest, they should get in touch with the tenant to try to resolve the situation amicably. Ask the tenant to repair the damage by a set deadline, giving them a chance to correct it before taking a more official approach. 

Tenant vetting and management

No landlord enjoys conflict - and dealing with damage can be a lengthy, costly, and very stressful process so it’s always better to minimize the risk by acting proactively. 

Properly vetting tenants gives you a better chance of screening out troublemakers who are likely to be careless with your unit. It’s worth taking the time to find a good tenant, who respects your property and with whom you can develop a trusting relationship over the long-term.

Our experienced team takes the stress out of being a landlord by handling every aspect of renting – from tenant vetting and management to property maintenance and emergency repairs.

We carefully screen every tenant, conducting interviews and running comprehensive background checks, to make sure you have someone you can trust in your property.

Once they’ve met our high standards, we’ll manage the rental on your behalf, collecting rent, dealing with repairs, and negotiating any disputes. 

Discover how you can make the most of your investment, contact us today to find out more about our professional property management services!



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