When an applicant becomes a tenant and you both sign a lease, you provide your property to them for a select amount of time as long as they abide by the rules set forth. Often, along with their first month's rent, a landlord will also ask for a deposit to cover any damages (excluding normal wear and tear) done to the property. The goal for both parties should be for the landlord to provide the full deposit back to the tenant at the end of their lease. If you do, it's a win-win scenario. The tenant receives their money back while you receive a clean and undamaged property to rent out to the next tenant.
One of the best ways to head off any disagreements between landlords and tenants at the end of the lease term is to do a walk through with them when they first move in and also before they move out. Photos are a good idea because they allow both parties to go back to physical evidence and refresh their memories. Some landlords will provide a checklist of what they expect cleaned before the tenant moves out, just to give them a clear path. Going through with them before the final decision on how much of the deposit will be returned helps to give them time to fix anything that needs to be fixed and clean anything that isn't up to your standards.
Knowing what to consider normal wear and tear and what is damage that should be charged for can sometimes be a bit of a subjective task. You'll want to make sure you balance this, not allowing the tenant to bully you into not charging for actual damage, but certainly not going the other way either where you attempt to charge them for things they really had no control over.
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