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Property Maintenance Facts: Normal Wear and Tear Vs Damage

Photo by Skylar Kang from Pexels

When you choose to own a property you’re either going to live in it or you’ll rent it out to someone. This will help you to cover the cost of purchasing the property and even help you create a retirement fund. But, renting property can be a headache. You need to find tenants, maintain the property, and ensure they don’t cause unnecessary damage.

In fact, that can be the most difficult part, understanding what constitutes wear and tear and what is damage. 

It’s important to know the difference and, if you have any concerns, to have a dye penetrant testing performed as this will highlight irregularities in surfaces and sub-surfaces. It’s a useful way of ensuring the structural integrity of a building or any surface.

Wear & Tear

Wear and tear is the term used for things that naturally age resulting in the need for maintenance or replacement. There are many things that can class as wear and tear in a property, such as paint fading or small holes in the wall where posters and pictures have been hung.

It should be noted that some rental contracts forbid the hanging of pictures which means the pinholes would not be classed as wear and tear.

Interestingly, a dented wall is usually classed as damage. But, if the dent is from a door handle repeatedly touching the wall then this is wear and tear.

Other items that class as wear and tear are faded curtains, carpets worn through normal daily use, minor scratches on wooden floors, and even furniture. Warped doors from humidity and clogs in pipes are also considered wear and tear.


Damage is most obvious when holes have been put into walls, perhaps from fists or furniture being thrown around. Missing legs or deep gouges in the furniture also suggests that the furniture hasn’t just been used for normal activities, indicating it’s been damaged.

In most cases, a paint job that hasn’t been authorized by the owner will be considered damage as would wallpaper, damaged blinds, and curtains, and even doors pulled off their hinges.

Stains and burn marks are clearly damage and missing items can be classed as damage or worse. 

It’s essential that you have a precise inventory and some pictures before you rent your property, it will make it much easier to show damage versus wear and tear.

Additional Thoughts

A good rental contract will ensure that a tenant can be charged for damages and not for things that are considered wear and tear. This is why you need to be specific about what is, and isn’t, allowed. However, there is always room for personal judgment. If a property is generally well looked after but an accident has happened, resulting in a stain, you may be happy to let this go. But, that’s a personal decision, you still need to have a contract and an understanding of damage versus wear and tear. It makes the situation easier for all concerned parties.


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