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Normal Wear and Tear – Dirt and Pet Damage

normal wear and tear dirt floor

What is normal wear and tear for dirt and also for pet damage?

Pet Damage and Dirt and Grime:

Pet damage is a possibility when you rent to tenants with pets. Not all pet owners will have pets that create damage to a unit. Stains in the carpet, holes in the yard and scratched floors or chewed walls or doors are not considered normal wear and tear.

Tenants should leave a unit clean when they move out. The same condition of clean as when the moved in.  Clogged drains, filthy bathtubs and sinks, food in the fridge and piles of trash are all examples of things beyond the description of normal wear and tear.

While there may be exceptions to all of these normal wear and tear items, at Maple Leaf Management we try to be clear about the condition of the unit both at move in and move out. We also try to be clear about our expectations. We document the condition both with a written condition report and pictures. Our goal is to do a great job for both our owners and for our tenants.

Tenant Protection from Seattle City Council

smith-2Btower-2B2According to the Seattle’s Renting Crisis Report from the Washington Community Action Network, “48% of individuals who pay for rent with Social Security Disability Insurance or Social Security retirement income said that discrimination prevents them from having successful rental applications.”

In addition to not allowing discrimination based on income sources, Seattle has passed legislation to include the following protections:
1. First-Come, First-Served Screening Practice. Prevents housing providers from giving applicants with alternative sources of income a lower priority. It requires landlords to review applications one at a time, on a first-come, first-served basis.
2. New Eviction Protections. Ensures that tenants can fully utilize community resources to prevent eviction. Landlords will be required to accept pledges from community-based organizations to remedy nonpayment of rent if funds are received within 5 days of an eviction notice.
3. Preferred Employer Programs Banned. Encourages landlords to offer non-discriminatory move-in incentives. In 2015, both media and community members reported discounts on deposits and other move-in fees for rental applicants working for preferred employers. The Seattle of Office of Civil Rights recently concluded that some preferred employer programs that provide discounts or other terms and conditions in rental housing to certain groups over others may constitute discrimination under Seattle’s Open Housing Ordinance (SMC 14.08).

Normal Wear and Tear – Appliances

normal wear and tear - appliances

What is normal wear and tear for appliances?


Any appliances that have been  supplied with the unit  will age and eventually break down. This includes such items as air conditioners, furnaces, stoves and washers and dryers. The question of course is to determine if the appliance wore out on it’s own or if it was damaged by the tenant either by intent or by improper use. At Maple Leaf Management we keep in close contact with the owners and tenants so we can keep records and pictures of appliance condition and history.

Normal Wear and Tear – Walls and Doors

scratched wall and door jamb

Let’s continue our discussion of normal wear and tear on walls and doors.

Walls and Doors:

Faded paint or wall paper is considered normal and tear. If there are a few small holes, or a mark where the door handle hits the wall this is usually considered normal wear and tear. These items can be easily repaired. If however there are pen or crayon marks on the walls or deep gouges or dents that require more than a quick repair, this  would be more than normal wear and tear.

The same can be said for doors. If a door is hanging from hinges or needs to be replaced o it’s beyond the scope of normal wear and tear and can be deducted from a tenants security deposit.

At Maple Leaf Management, we take move in and move out photos to document the condition of wall and doors as well as having a written report. This will help us determine if we need to retain a portion of the security deposit for repairs.

Normal Wear and Tear – Floors

What is normal wear and tear? As floor wear and tearproperty managers, we’re always talking with owners and tenants about normal wear and tear. What is normal and what exceeds normal wear and tear.

This can vary of course but here are some guidelines for floors.


Floors will not be in pristine condition when a tenant leaves. Carpet has a limited lifetime with high traffic areas showing more wear and it’s common for some indentations from furniture. Steam cleaning will generally bring carpet back into decent shape. Pet stains, holes and burns are not going to be considered normal wear and tear. With hardwood floors, the same applies. Worn or scuffed floors in areas with lots of traffic can be expected but deep gouges or extensive scratches are not normal wear and tear. With tile or linoleum it depends on the quality of the flooring and what has caused the damage. If it’s peeling near the door, it’s most likely wear and tear but if it’s chipped or gouged, it’s more likely to fall into the beyond wear and tear category.

At Maple Leaf Management we take pictures of move in and move out condition and we have a move in condition report so we can help document for owners and tenants the condition of the floors.

Fall Maintenance Checklist

leaves in gutters MLM

With fall, there comes home maintenance items that should be done. Sometimes we can remember what we need to do but sometimes it’s handy to have a reminder.

1. Remember to put the mower away. If you have a hand mower the job is easy but if you have a gas mower check out the YouTube videos or ask at your local hardware store what you need to do in order to store your mower for the winter and still have it work well when spring arrives.

2. Remove garden hoses drain them  and put them in storage whether it’s a garage or a storage shed. If you leave the hoses attached and there is a sudden freeze you could have cracked or frozen pipes.

3. Cover the hose bibs with insulated hose bib covers.

4. Clean the gutters. This means remove the twigs, leaves and assorted debris that collects in those gutters. It will help the water flow off the roof and help prevent leaks.

5. Check the downspouts. Does the water from the gutters drain away from the house so it will not leak into the basement or crawlspace?

6. The furnace will be coming on more regularly. Do you need to replace the furnace filter? This is a good time to change the filter and have a couple spares on hand so you can change it regularly.

7. Check the batteries in your safety devices and use the test button to make sure they work. This includes both the smoke detectors and the CO detectors.

Here’s to a pleasant fall and winter.

Long-term impact on short-term rentals

room for rentThe City of Seattle proposed new regulations on short-term rentals, specifically impacting Airbnb rentals, during a recent meeting. Landlords packed the City Council’s chambers to voice concerns over the proposal, which would drastically limit some short-term rentals in Seattle. Under the proposal, rental units that aren’t within the landlord’s primary residence can be rented out for only 90 days cumulative per year to short-term renters. If it is within the primary residence, the operator has no limit. The owner needs to obtain a new “short-term rental operator” license from the City of Seattle.

The idea is to cut down on the number of long-term rentals that are being converted to Airbnbs to give landlords a larger payout over the year. Homeowners who rent out a backroom of their house will not be drastically affected. The City of Seattle estimates about 80 percent of short-term rental operators will see no new regulations. The City Council hopes these regulations will keep commercial renters from converting long-term rentals, which could benefit Seattle’s current “housing crisis,” as several city politicians have called it. Airbnb estimates their Seattle community generated $180 million of economic impact in 2015. A total of 87 percent of hosts share their home with the tenants, and they average 80 nights rented per year.

A rough timeline from the city says it will hold two months of public discussion on these regulations before a council vote in August or September.

Watering Season is Here!

sprinklerSpring has arrived in the Northwest, and it looks like our record-setting rain in the winter is going to be followed by record-setting heat. If your home has a lawn and landscaping, this is a good time to start a watering routine.

Most plants do best if the soil is allowed to partially dry out between watering. For lawns, a dull appearance or footprints not showing indicate that it’s time to water. Vegetables and other annuals should be watered at the first sign of wilting, but tougher perennials (plants that live for several years) only need water if they stay droopy after it cools off in the evening. Trees and shrubs usually don’t need any watering once their roots are fully established (two to five years), except in very dry years.

The flip side of the watering season is that water rates go up. To take care of your lawn, but also keep your utilities bill in check, consider following these tips:

  1. Water early in the morning (before 10 a.m.) or later in the evening (after 6 p.m.) when temperatures are cooler and evaporation is minimized.
  2. Adjust sprinklers so that they are watering your lawn and landscape and not the street or sidewalk.
  3. Set it but don’t forget it! Whether you have a manual or automatic system, be sure to regularly adjust your watering schedules throughout the irrigation season.

For more tips and online resources, visit the Seattle Public Utilities website and read about “Smart Watering.”

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