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Tenant Damages vs. Normal Wear and Tear | CRM Properties Inc

Tenant Damages vs. Normal Wear and Tear

Tenant Damages vs. Normal Wear and Tear

Understanding the difference between property damage and normal wear and tear is crucial for property owners and real estate investors in Indianapolis. It can mean the difference between a reasonable expense and a costly mistake. In this blog, we'll explore this important distinction, helping you make informed decisions about your rental property.

Property Damage: What It Is and What to Look For

Property damage refers to any harm or destruction to your rental property that is beyond the scope of what is considered normal wear and tear. It is typically caused by tenant neglect, misuse, or accidents. Here are some common examples of property damage:

  1. Broken windows or doors: Damaged windows or doors resulting from tenant-inflicted impact, such as a shattered glass pane, is considered property damage.
  2. Stains and burns: Significant or excessive carpet stains, burns on countertops, or furniture damage are typically the tenant's responsibility to repair.
  3. Holes in walls: Holes in walls caused by tenant negligence, such as punching or hanging items improperly, fall under property damage.
  4. Pet-related damage: If you allow pets and there are significant damages, like chewed door frames, scratched floors, or stained carpets, these are generally considered property damage.
  5. Appliance misuse: If a tenant improperly uses appliances, leading to damage or breakage, it is considered property damage.

Normal Wear and Tear: What It Entails

Normal wear and tear, on the other hand, refers to the gradual deterioration of your property that occurs naturally over time, even with responsible use and regular maintenance. Examples of normal wear and tear include:

  1. Faded paint or wallpaper: Paint and wallpaper can fade over time due to exposure to sunlight, and this is generally considered normal wear and tear.
  2. Minor scuffs on floors: Small scuffs on flooring that result from everyday use and routine cleaning are typically considered normal wear and tear.
  3. Worn-out carpet: Over time, carpets will show signs of wear, such as matting and light discoloration, which fall under normal wear and tear.
  4. Loose door handles or hinges: The gradual loosening of door handles or hinges is a common occurrence and is considered normal wear and tear.
  5. Aging appliances: Appliances have a limited lifespan and will naturally degrade over time, making their replacement a regular maintenance expense.

Why Knowing the Difference Matters

Understanding the difference between property damage and normal wear and tear is essential for several reasons:

  1. Tenant Security Deposit: When it comes time to return a tenant's security deposit, it's essential to deduct the cost of property damage but not normal wear and tear. Failing to make this distinction can lead to legal issues.
  2. Maintenance and Budgeting: Accurate identification helps property owners and investors allocate funds for necessary repairs and updates effectively.
  3. Legal Compliance: Complying with Indiana's landlord-tenant laws requires accurately assessing damage and wear and tear to maintain a fair and lawful rental agreement.


Distinguishing between property damage and normal wear and tear is a critical aspect of effective property management in Indianapolis. Property owners and investors should document the condition of their rental properties before and after each tenancy to accurately assess and address any damage. By understanding and properly addressing property issues, you can maintain a healthy landlord-tenant relationship, protect your investment, and ensure legal compliance. If you're uncertain about how to distinguish between the two or have questions about managing your property, consider consulting with a property management professional in Indianapolis who can provide guidance and expertise in these matters.

Contact us today at or 765-459-8034 to learn more about how we can help you manage your rental property and succeed in a profitable and sustainable investment.

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