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A common argument over security deposit reduction relates to carpet.  Landlords are upset about stains and damages to the carpet that might hinder future tenants from renting.  Tenants claim the carpets are old and worn down anyways.  Can a landlord charge for carpet replacement?

To fully embrace this far-to-frequent argument, first learn the difference between normal wear and tear and damaged carpets.

Normal Wear and Tear

Over time, the carpet and pad lose their strength.  Dirt gets ingrained.  Over the years, your once fresh-and-clean looking carpet now looks crushed and darken.

Due to being walked on every day, carpets worsen over time.  Known as wear-and-tear.  Its intended use causes a slow destruction.  Wear and tear is expected.

Damaged and Stained Carpet

Although carpet naturally wears down, certain actions accelerate wear or notably alter the appearance.  We are talking about stains, pet urine, rips and burns!

These actions are not normal and nature.  Therefore, the direct action of the tenant caused the carpet to lose life.

When Landlords Should Not Charge Tenant for Dirty Carpets?

In most cases, landlords are responsible for standard carpet cleaning.  Landlords often include carpet cleaning during their tenant turnover process.  While cost is covered by the landlord, landlords can include carpet cleaning in their non-refundable fees.

Basic carpet cleaning is part of normal wear and tear.  In most states, landlords cannot charge tenants unless there is additional work required to fix the carpet.  This might include additional cleanings on deep stains.

Landlords should anticipate costs for an annual carpet cleaning.  This prolongs the life of their carpet.

When Landlords Should Charge a Tenant for Dirty Carpets?

When tenants leave overly dirty or damaged carpets, the landlord can deduct cost from their security deposit.

If stains or pet urine do not come out with the basic carpet cleaning, landlords can attempt an advanced cleaning.

Sometimes stains and scents remain after the advanced cleaning.  Or, the carpet has physical damage from rips, paint or burn marks.  In these cases, a landlord can charge for carpet replacements.

It is important to keep all receipts related to carpet cleanings and replacements.  Courts typically refuse landlords to charge their time if self-performed.  Keep that in mind when you deduct costs.

Take Photos

When new tenants move in, landlords and tenants should document all existing damages and signs of wear and tear.  This rule applies to more than carpet as well.

Proper documentation can protect both landlords and tenants.  As well as reduce future headaches during the move-out process.  Important that you keep records of both parties acknowledging move-in conditions.

What is Carpet’s Life Expectancy?

Carpets have a tax life of 5 years, allowing landlords to depreciate its value.  However, the physical life of carpet is closer to 10 years.

As a tenant, ask your landlord or property manager when the carpets were installed.  Ask when the landlord intends to replace their carpet.  This is useful information to document in the lease.

As a landlord, expect to replace carpet every 10 years.  During its shelf-life, you can deduct security deposit for major stains and damages, which are applied towards paying for new carpet.

Pay a portion of the total costs

When the tenants have caused enough damage to warrant the replacement of carpet, consider prorating the cost.  Assuming the carpet still had years of life left, max 10, the tenants would pay for each remaining year.

For example, assume the carpets are damaged and need replacing on Year 6.  The carpet could have been used for another 4 years.  Therefore, tenant would be responsible for 40% of the replacement cost.  Formula: 4 Years Remaining / 10 Year Life = 40%.

As well, tenants can be held responsible only for the rooms carpet was damaged.  However, they cannot be charged for the other non-damaged rooms if you decide to replace all the carpet.

Keep Track of Maintenance Items

Looking for a tool that allows you to track all your property maintenance over the years?  Burbz offers landlords free maintenance ticketing systems.

Tenants submit their maintenance tickets online.  They provide photos, descriptions and their schedule for repairs.  Landlords can share tickets with their contractors to optimize coordinating.

Or, set the maintenance item as deferred and repair later.  Use the tracking log as a reminder.

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