Co-owner of California Leasing, Scott Taylor and author of 15-Minute Landlord continues offering practical advice and tips to Investment Property Owners here on our blog! Learn more about why flooring options truly can make or break the bank for a rental property owner…
I’ve had a spate of landlords coming to me with this humble brag, “We just put in new wood floors throughout the house.”
To which I simply shake my head. I’m not Nostradamus, but I can see the future on this one. Wood floors are bad for business. Or in this case, for your real estate business.
And, just to clarify, that is what you are running when you rent out your home … a business. You have turned your home into a money machine. And if you want to keep more of that money you need to price right and reduce unnecessary expenses.
There are necessary expenses. Management, landscape and pool maintenance, appliance repair, and the like.
And then there are unnecessary repairs. Custom paint jobs, über high end carpet, and wood floors.
Here is the main problem with wood floors … they scratch, easily. Furniture, pets, kids, high heels all mar the surface. With old school wood floors this could have been sanded and stained. But even that is challenging with the latest “hand scrapped” options that decorators so adore.
But today the most affordable choice is laminate flooring. So we are essentially wearing a picture off a piece of stiff cardboard.
Here is my promise to you as a budding rental property business owner. You will not receive the wood floors back in the condition you left them. It has never happened and it never will.
But, if you insist on having wood or laminate flooring do yourself this one simply favor. Grab as much extra flooring as you can gather and store it for future repairs.
Civil Code 1950.5 is the code that governs security deposit deductions in the State of California. Most repairs are conducted using the “repair and deduct” method. That means you make the repair and deduct from the tenant’s security deposit.
Please note, I said “make the repair.” There is no deduction for wear-and-tear, use, or abuse. You must repair. No repair, no deduction.
That’s why you need the extra flooring. You need to have something, preferably on-hand, with which to make the repair. This year’s “cherry” flooring from the big box home improvement store will not be the same color, lot, or probably manufacturer in three to five years. It won’t match, you won’t like the result, so you won’t make the repair, and you can’t make the deduction.
There are many choices in flooring for rentals. And if you love wood floors and think they will make all the difference then that is your choice. But don’t expect to get them back in the pristine condition you left them to your tenant. And please, even if you ignore everything else I’ve said, buy as much extra flooring now as you can reasonably store while it is still available.