One of the more difficult to define tenant laws is “normal wear and tear.” In Colorado, normal wear and tear means deterioration that occurs, based upon the use for which the rental unit is intended, without negligence, carelessness, accident, or abuse of the premises or equipment or chattels by the tenant or members of her household, or their invitees or guests. Security Deposits withheld for normal wear and tear is a violation of Colorado law so it is imperative that the difference between the two is well understood to avoid being taken to court by your tenant.
Damage that occurs due to negligence, carelessness, accident or abuse is most likely not normal wear and tear. Usually a sudden event will happen with damage and normal wear and tear tends to happen over a period of time. This is not cut and dry though. A neglected wood floor could be considered damage due to lack of proper care by the tenant. The general rule is to only withhold deposit money for actual damages.
Here are 10 examples of normal wear and tear:
1. Scuff marks or worn patches on flooring
2. Wear patterns on carpet
3. Carpet seams unglued or unravel
4. Warping of doors and windows
5. Wall dents from door handles
6. Broken strings on blinds or curtains
7. Cracked light switch plates
8. Cracks in walls or ceiling from settling
9. Sun-faded/heat blistered blinds or doors
10. Wobbly toilet
Here are 10 examples of damage:
1. Holes or tears in flooring
2. Burns or oil stains on carpet
3. Pet urine stains on walls and carpet
4. Holes in walls not from doorknobs
5. Torn or missing curtains
6. Broken window or missing screens
7. Pest extermination if pets lived on the premises
8. Cuts/burns/cracks on countertops
9. Unauthorized painting
10. Appliances broken due to negligence
Completing an in depth move in checklist with incoming tenants is a first step in this process. Not only should the landlord detail the condition of the home, tenants as well should keep detailed records for their files. Disputes over deductions are common so properly completed condition forms, photos and even a video record of the move in condition will go a long way when it’s time to decide the disposition of the security deposit. If excessive damage is found after the deposit is returned, the tenant can still be invoiced but the chances of receiving payment are slim. We suggest always making sure an itemized receipt of any deductions is provided before returning any money.
Here at Solid Rock Realty, our professional Property Management team is here to help make sense of confusing tenant laws so contact us today for your free consultation.