A “Thorny” Issue
Differentiating between what is “damage” and what is “normal wear and tear” is often a subject of dispute between tenants/landlords/property managers. The way the Civil Code 1950.5(f) (1) addresses this is by providing the Notice of a Right to Pre-Move Out Inspection (within 14 days of the date of the Final Move Out Inspection). The tenant has the right to waive this inspection in writing if he/she chooses not to have it. At Sue Carrell & Associates, we recommend that the tenant have this inspection so that they know two weeks before vacating what will be perceived as damage and what passes as “wear and tear”. It also gives the tenant time to cure the defect if they feel it’s something they can repair cheaper than the landlord will do.
Phone technology makes it easy for property managers and owners to take photos of just about every nook and cranny in the dwelling when the tenant moves in, in order to document the condition of the place at the time they move in. The Civil Code has specific language to address effective age of paint, carpet, appliances, etc. This is a standard that courts and property managers need to bear in mind before charging 100% of paint or carpet replacement to the tenant. A good guideline for tenants to consider is that they should expect to leave the premises in the condition it was in when they moved in especially if they’ve only been in the unit for a year or two.