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Tenant Damages vs. Normal Wear and Tear: How to Spot the Difference as a Honolulu Landlord


One of the things that Honolulu owners find so frustrating is the term normal wear and tear. This is vague, imprecise, and subject to what the courts determine. Generally, it’s the accumulation of normal wear that occurs when someone occupies and uses your rental property. It’s deterioration that would happen even if you were living there yourself.

Honolulu Rental Property and Wear and Tear

Honolulu investors need to understand that everything in your home has a life expectancy. Flooring like carpet or wood will wear out, paint will need to be updated, and appliances will break and need to be replaced. Paint is usually the biggest concern, and there will always be chips and scuffs left behind on the wall. It’s reasonable for tenants to hang pictures and place their furniture against the wall. That’s wear and tear, not damage.

Honolulu Tenants and Property Damage

Certain things move beyond wear and tear and qualify as damage. If a tenant’s child draws on the walls, that’s not wear and tear. Re-painting in different colors without your permission is also something the tenant will have to pay for at the end of a tenancy. Damage includes large tears in the carpet, big holes in the walls from drilled mounts for televisions and mirrors, and broken appliances due to misuse or neglect.

How Honolulu Landlords Can Protect their Property

How Honolulu Landlords Can Protect their PropertyBe responsive and attentive to maintenance so that small problems don’t become large problems. Work with licensed and insured vendors. When damaged by the tenant, if the tenant is still living in the property, you must give them an opportunity for them to have it fixed. If they refuse, repair it and follow-up to collect the sum from the tenant. If you try to require a tenant to fix something and the tenant refuses, you can attempt to evict that tenant, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll win. The court may require you to have to pay for the repair, and then work to get reimbursed by your tenant.

Good documentation will help you distinguish between tenant damage and wear and tear. It also helps to work with a professional Honolulu property management company. We work with these situations every day, and we’d be glad to help. Contact us at HappyDoors Property Management.