Dealing with property damage is a naturally occurring part of the property management business. Whether you’re managing rental properties, commercial properties, or looking at developer services, you will need to accept the very real possibility that you will very likely face property damage at some point.
But before you send your tenants a bill of repairs, you must first identify exactly how extensive the damage is and how much it will cost to fix it.
Identifying these things can sometimes prove to be more challenging than it sounds. You will need to first decipher if the related damage is a result of natural wear and tear or deliberate property damage.
Still, by using a few simple strategies, you can easily determine how much to charge your tenants for the damage they leave behind.
Distinguish between Ordinary Wear and Tear
The term ‘wear and tear’ is used in the property management industry as an expression when dealing with damage that occurred in the normal course of use ie. normal depreciation.
When dealing with wear and tear, it’s important to determine the difference between normal wear and tear and harmful damage to a rental unit. This can sometimes become an issue if you have a tenant moving out and are looking for their security deposit to be returned.
A landlord cannot make deductions for normal wear and tear, but a landlord can make deductions for damage done to the property.
Educate Tenants in Advance
The number one thing we encourage our team of certified property managers to do is to educate their tenants about all details pertaining to property damage in advance.
Developing a written document outlining, describing and defining, common examples of property damage helps protect both you, the property owner and the tenant from unpleasant surprises or negative situations.
Additionally, having a written guideline on types of uncovered property damages helps resolve potential ambiguity around the extensiveness of the damages and the time required to identify the costs,
When Damage Occurs
If you have come to the conclusion that damage has occurred, your next move is to determine the types of reasonable costs associated with repairing or replacing the problem. We recommend performing a time-cost analysis to determine the extensiveness of the damage.
Itemized List to Tenant
In any situation, we can’t stress the importance of documentation.
Documentation, documentation, documentation!
Once you have finalized or completed repairing the damages you should always give your tenants a comprehensive list outlining all the damages, repairs, and detailed receipts associated with the incident. This becomes especially important when considering if it is appropriate in deducting the cost of repairs from the tenant’s security deposit.
If, however, your tenant still plans to occupy your property, charging them for the repairs can prove to be a difficult situation. In order to keep yourself protected make sure you give advance notice of the damages and an invoice that details their specific portion of the repair costs.
Contact us today for more information on how to assess and charge renters for property damage.
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