Normal wear and tear can be subjective, and its definition often depends on the judge and the courts. This is why documentation is essential; so that a clear argument can be made on your behalf and you’re able to confidently go to court and expect a favorable outcome.
Before a tenant moves in, make sure you accurately document the condition of the property with date stamped photos and video evidence. When you put together this type of documentation, it’s easy to see what the property looked like when you handed over the keys. Document how it looks and be detailed. You want to capture every floor, wall, ceiling, and appliance.
California landlord and tenant law outlines the life expectancy of different parts of the home, such as paint, carpet, blinds and other things. It’s very important that landlords understand the life expectancy of the items in the home. You also must be able to accurately factor in depreciation of such items. You don’t want to charge a tenant for damaging carpet in the home that is 20 years old. If that tenant only lived there for one year, you cannot charge for the whole cost of the carpet. That will only result in you going to court and the judge telling you that you should have depreciated that carpet based on life expectancy. There are a lot of technicalities involved in depreciation and wear and tear. You need to know them; otherwise you’ll be taken to court by your tenants.
One of the benefits of working with a professional property manager is that we have this information readily available. We have moved tenants in and out of property hundreds of times, and we know how judges will see wear and tear. We understand how to depreciate your property and we can take all of the guesswork out of it for owners. There are still some grey areas and it can still be subjective, but our experience helps landlords avoid arguments about the difference between wear and tear and damage. We keep attorneys on
If you have any questions about how to define normal wear and tear in California, please contact us at Elite Property Management, and we’d be happy to help you.
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