Apartment landlords can charge tenants for carpet replacement or cleaning if they can prove that the damage is due to misuse of the carpet.
However, it’s not too simple.
There are many factors that one has to account for when discussing carpet cleaning or replacement in a rental unit.
As a landlord or tenant, knowing the law regarding carpet replacement is essential as it will save you from doing anything illegal.
Warranty of Habitability
Property owners are legally bound to make a unit livable. Due to this, they must ensure that all facilities are present and there are no health hazards.
Typically, carpets don’t fall under amenities that a landlord must provide or else their property will not be habitable.
However, if the apartment already have a carpet and it’s in a bad state, so much so that it can pose a threat to the health of the tenants, then the landlord must change it.
In such a case, the renter is not liable to pay for the replacement.
When Can A Landlord Ask The Tenant To Pay For Carpet Replacement?
A landlord can only ask for carpet-related payment if they know (and can prove) that the tenant has caused the damage that warrants the change.
But doing so is not so easy for many reasons. Firstly, the landlord will need visual proof to back the claim that the renter/tenant spoiled the carpet.
To do that, you (the landlord) must have pictures of the time when your tenants hadn’t moved in.
In other words, if you have images of your apartment from the time of inspection, you can use those to blame your renter for misuse.
Let’s say people living in your house are quite reasonable with good credit scores, but they refuse to pay for damages to the carpet, saying that it was already in a terrible state.
In such a scenario, you can only take money from your tenants if:
- The carpet is noticeably spoiled; for example, there is a coffee or wine stain
- The carpet is damaged beyond normal wear and tear
Wear and tear is a part of owning a property. If you are a property owner, you need to ensure that the things you offer along with your place are in tiptop condition.
So, if any routine expenses come up to maintain whatever items are present in the rental, you will have to bear them. You cannot expect renters to pay for that.
But that begs the question of what qualifies as regular wear and tear.
Like furniture, carpets lose their newness over time that are often manifested as
- Discoloration in places
- Indentation due to furnishings
- Thinning in areas where people walk the most
- Threads unfurling from the edges
A new carpet is easily distinguishable from an old one because of the signs mentioned above.
Therefore, figuring out if rug flooring has been damaged due to misuse or has simply run its course is not too challenging.
Another factor to consider when assessing damage to a carpet is depreciation. Everyone knows that things depreciate over time, so naturally, carpets do too.
In other words, a carpet can only last for a specific amount of time.
Let’s say the carpet you have in your rental was laid down 6 years ago, which means not much of its useful age is left. Typically, a thick rug or carpet lasts a decade.
However, that estimation can change based on the state.
Different states can have varying laws about the useful life of the carpet in rental units. Some may say it’s 5 years, while others may say it’s 10 years.
Pro-tip for tenants: When you move in, take pictures of the apartments and all the fittings/furnishings it comes with. This is a prudent move to avoid issues later.
How Much Can Landlord Charge the Tenant for Carpet?
To calculate the carpet’s value currently in your apartment more accurately, check your local regulations.
Based on the good years (when it is useable) of a carpet, you can make out its monetary value at any given time.
Let’s assume the carpet in your rental is supposed to last 10 years, and you got it 7 years ago. This means only three years of its useful life are left.
In such a scenario, if you have to charge your tenant for carpet replacement or cleaning, you will only take the sum of three years’ worth of useful life.
Original carpet cost/useful years x remaining years- this is the amount you can ask your renter to pay even if the damage they did amounts much more than that.
Carrying the above scenario forward and assuming that you paid 3000$ for the carpet. With 7 years gone, here is what you can legally ask your tenant to pay for changing the carpeting.
3000/10 = 300$ per year x 3 = 900$
Even if your renter ruined the carpet in your unit and you will have to change it 3 years earlier, you can still not ask them for money more than the monetary value of the remaining useful years.
That said, if you explicitly mentioned in your lease agreement that the resident will have to bear the cost of a new carpet in full if there is noticeable damage, such as a wine stain, then you can ask for more.
To sum it all up, here is a rundown of how much a landlord can charge for getting a new carpet (if they can).
If they can prove that the renter has indeed spoiled the carpet, they can ask for compensation. But that amount will be computed based on the remaining useful years of the carpet.
However, if someone puts it in the lease contract that the tenant will have to pay for carpet replacement in case of any damage done to it, they can use said clause to get more money.
What Happens If The Carpet Is At The End Of Its Useful Life?
If your rental’s carpet has served its time and is due for a replacement, you cannot demand any money for cleaning or a new purchase from your tenant even if they caused visible damage.
Simply put, if your tenants somehow burned part of the carpet, even so, you cannot ask them for compensation if the carpet is at the end of its useful years.
To better understand the ruling, let’s consider the above example again with a slight change.
Now we assume that you got the carpet laid down 10 years ago, which means it is at the end of its useful life.
In this situation, you notice that your tenant has burned a hole into your carpet, which is damage that goes beyond regular wear and tears.
Yet, you cannot charge them for it and have to bear the cost of a new carpet yourself.
Can A Landlord Deduct Part Of The Security Deposit for Carpet Renewal?
Yes, they certainly can; however, they will have to provide a detailed breakdown of the amount you deduct from their security deposit.
Moreover, you will have to back up your claim with visible evidence, such as pictures or video clips.
It must also be noted that you need to inform your renter about the deduction from their security deposit within 14 days after the end of the lease.
You must write them a notice, explaining everything along with pictures.
In any case, you need to have solid proof for demanding money from your tenant, or else they may take you to small claims court.
If you want your renter to pay for carpet replacement, you must put that as a term in the lease contract.
If not, you will have to abide by the legal ruling, which warrants a landlord to only take money worth the remaining useful years in the name of carpet replacement.
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