What’s ‘Wear and Tear’ in a Rental? What’s Considered Normal?

What is considered “normal wear and tear?” The one thought on every renter’s mind on move-out day (aside from “How the heck am I going to get this sofa through the front door?”) has to do with the security deposit. Will you ever see that money again?

According to most leases, your only hope is to return your apartment in the same condition as when you took possession, beyond “normal wear and tear.” Still, though, this raises the question: What exactly is normal wear and tear, and what crosses the line?

What qualifies as ‘normal wear and tear’

Unfortunately, when it comes to pinpointing wear and tear, there’s no specific laundry list of flaws that landlords will find acceptable to leave behind. It helps to think in terms of things you encounter in your own home on a daily basis.

“Have you ever put a nail in the wall to hang a picture or scuffed the wall carrying in groceries?” asks Trent Zachmann, chief operating officer of Renters Warehouse, which manages residential real estate. (Of course you have!) “These kinds of things happen.”

Normal wear and tear is light damage that occurs over time and doesn’t affect the use of the home or appliances; it’s just not aesthetically pleasing. Other examples of normal wear and tear are light scratches on wood floors, wear spots on carpet (but not stains), and loose railings or banisters.

What tenants must fix

According to Gary Malin, president of Citi Habitats, these are some of the most common things that renters would be responsible for fixing:

Excessively scratched or gouged floors
Broken windows or torn screens
Broken or nonworking appliances
Pet stains and odors
Custom wall coverings such as paint or wallpaper
Any installations like shelving, light fixtures, or window treatments

The importance of a move-in checklist

All landlords or property managers will have different expectations, and so on your move-in day it’s important to discuss the condition they expect you to keep your apartment in. Scratches and discoloration should be documented, so whip out your smartphone or camera and take photos of any flaws you see and make sure your landlord is aware of them so he knows you didn’t create them.

Ideally, your landlord should provide a checklist of the property condition upon move in. But if not, Kimberly Smith of AvenueWest, which manages corporate housing, recommends creating your own (you can download a sample rental property checklist online). Ask your landlord to sign the document to make it official, include photos of flaws, and, if you want to be extra careful, search online and try to find out the life expectancy of various items. One biggie is the carpet.

“The carpet is a great example of an amenity that many tenants and landlords dispute,” Smith explains. “To establish the expectations for the cleanliness of the carpet, first start with the total life expectancy.” Experts estimate that in a household of two to four people, carpet will typically last around three to five years. So if the tenant rents a newly carpeted place for five years and the carpet needs to be replaced when he moves out, then this is considered normal wear and tear.

In other words, make yourself at home and don’t sweat the small scuffs.

Florida property insurers file rate reductions with state

Experts say rate reductions likely will not lead to lower premiums

 

 

A state program created after a special legislative session on property insurance is supposed to pass on savings to consumers.

A state statute required insurers to file their potential savings with the Office of Insurance regulation by June 30. Many companies have filed and there are reductions, but experts believe you might not see it in your premiums.

Bronson and Elizabeth Collins said the latest increase in their property insurance premium was jaw-dropping.

“We were shocked and angry at such an increase,” Elizabeth Collins said.

“I renewed my premium,” Bronson Collins said. “And it had increased 46%.”

The 88-year-old said it went from $1,640 a year to $2,473.

“It just seemed unreasonable to see that much at one time,” Bronson Collins said.

The couple is by no means alone.

After a special legislative session, lawmakers passed SB-2D.

“Insurers that participate in the Reinsurance to Assist Policyholders or ‘RAP” program,” this year “shall reduce its rates to reflect the cost savings realized by participating in the program,” according to the statute.

Reinsurance is basically insurance for insurance companies, and like everything else, the cost has increased, according to insurers.

American Reliable Insurance is proposing a 1.3% premium reduction.

There are highs and lows, but most companies seem to fall in the 1-2% percent range.

Paul Handerhan is the President of the Federal Association for Insurance Reform.

“If the rate benefit was a 1% reduction in costs, that’s not really meaningful,” Handerhan said.

These rate reductions, likely will not lead to you paying less for your premiums, according to Handerhan.

“You’re not going to go to the mailbox, pull your latest insurance renewal and see your rates going down.

For example, the Collins’ company has not filed a rate reduction for this year, but their latest increase in premiums was 46%, and his insurer requested a 48% increase from the Office of Insurance Regulation for next year — so reducing 1-2% wouldn’t really move the needle.

“If the goal was to reduce rates for consumers, certainly that’s not materializing,” Handerhan said.

“I just wonder how much money they wasted having their special session. I don’t think anything was accomplished,” Bronson said.

Republicans, who wrote and supported the legislation, said people should start seeing a decrease in their property insurance premiums in 12-18 months.

Florida real estate prices grew this spring but housing market is getting a wakeup call

Florida real estate prices grew this spring but housing market is getting a wakeup call

Economic challenges are pressuring home sales across the country but 99% of the top 100 markets still sizzled in May, with South Florida climbing the list of most overvalued regions in the nation. Seven areas in Florida made it into the top 25 most overvalued markets, with Fort Myers ranking the highest statewide and sixth place nationally. Homebuyers there paid 60% more in May than they would in a normal market. Lakeland, Tampa, Bradenton-Sarasota, Melbourne, Daytona Beach and Orlando were also in the top 25.