Pet smell in carpet - use security deposit to install hard flooring?

7 Replies

This is sort of a 2 part question.  I have some ideas for solutions but I hope some more experienced landlords can tell me if I'm on the right track or not.

First, a tenant who just moved out of my property has left the carpet smelling like cat urine.  In my opinion the floor needs to be replaced but what if he argues that it doesn't?  I'm not sure how to prove it stinks.  I can't take pictures of stink.  Would you save a piece of the stinky carpet?

Second, I would prefer to replace the carpet with hard floor that will hold up better.  I'm sure it's not fair to deduct the "upgraded" flooring cost from the tenant's security deposit.  Would you get a quote for the carpet replacement and use that number in the itemization?

You're correct definitely do not use the hard flooring cost as the deduction amount for the carpet...as a matter of fact you don't use the carpet amount either.

Say you put the carpet in 2 years ago, the IRS depreciation schedule is 5 years. So if you're replacing it now you deduct 3/5ths of the cost (the 3 years use you lost). 

It doesn't matter if grandma Betty took care of her carpet for 20 years before that and it looked new when the tenant moved in...it's older than 5 years you got your use out of it. That's not a hard and fast "rule" stated anywhere that I know of, but that is in some areas established by case law and in others just good business practice unless you want to be the one owing damages after the judge is through with you in court.

Good information.  Where they allowed to have a cat/pet as a condition in the lease ?  If they weren't that could be a replacement stance too.  Many people are allergic to pets, cats specifically "even if" the carpets etc were cleaned.  The argument could be made that his would limit potential new tenants.  I know someone that moved into a place that was "no pets" new carpet, paint etc...only to break out in major allergy and contact the landlord.   (furnaces, air-ducts etc)  There had been cats there before.  The landlord had to cancel the lease and re-moving cost.  

@Brian C if you allow pets - then I'd definitely do away with carpeting in your units. Also do you charge a pet deposit that specifies what is considered "pet damage"?

I just had someone with an unpermitted cat move out and of course needed to replace all the carpet and padding. angers me to no end since I could not have been more clear about our no cat policy. that being said, you can't charge them for upgraded flooring. 

I've been told that around here if you end up in front of a judge they won't let you take any deduction if the carpet is older than three years.

I did have a situation (before I had heard this three year guideline) where a tenant damaged two rooms of carpet.  I did what @Matt Devincenzo describes using the five year IRS schedule.  Then I also applied a fraction for the percentage of the whole carpet area for the two rooms.  Then I applied that to the original cost of the carpet and installation and charged the tenant that amount.  And I did replace it with laminate.   I don't have any carpet in my residence and I'll never put it in a rental again.

Jon Holdman, Flying Phoenix LLC

Originally posted by @Kimberly H.:

I just had someone with an unpermitted cat move out and of course needed to replace all the carpet and padding. angers me to no end since I could not have been more clear about our no cat policy. that being said, you can't charge them for upgraded flooring. 

 This is one of many reasons to do frequent inspections. You may not catch it immediately, but you should know fairly soon after.

Wow thank you all for the great advice. I bought the property with the carpet installed and I would guess it's older than 5 years anyway. I guess I am SOL. I allow pets and have a pet deposit but the lease only mentions deodorizing or repairing damage done by the pets.