How much is considered "normal wear and tear" for carpet?

14 Replies

Hello BP community!

I'm Carol I need your help how do you calculate how much to charge for "normal wear and tear" on carpeting. I have a tenant moving out, they have been with me for 5 years the carpet was not new when they moved in but they have a dog paid $250 pet deposit. When I went to visit the house with the realtor because I'm going to sell it, I noticed lots of pee spots and dirt spots. The tenant said they will have the carpet cleaned before they move out but of course they are in denial of how the spots got there. I will be replacing the carpet but I'd like to get a formula to calculate what's normal vs what's the tenant expense if any to pay?


The carpet is ruined and shot.  Assuming the value was 50% now it is zero or close to it. Charge by the sf.

If you see dog pee it is likely get into underlayment and subfloor as well.  You are likely to smell urine no matter what.

This is another reason you do not want PETS in a rental.

@Sam Shueh I agree with your assumption of the value of the carpet was 50% is that what you are suggesting to charge the tenant for cost replacement?

I usually don't like to allow pets either but 5 years ago the marketplace was very different, I was happy to get a qualified tenant who paid on time and took good care of the house.

If you are getting rid of the carpet I would just charge her for cleaning and put it toward removal. Usable life of carpet is considered 7 years.

May be you tell them you will replace the carpet not needing to shampoo? What is the replacement carpet going to cost you? $6/sf , $4 etc with new paddings. Often the cost is more than the deposit. 

No matter how you look at, each time tenants leave you get clobbered with repair bill often over deposit. Some landlord wants top rent and tenants will exit after first year. I prefer long term tenant personally.

IRS depreciation schedule is 5 years for carpet, and I use that as rule of thumb for how long it should last.

@Carol Bloom

Anything after 5 years is really a bonus with pets. Have you considered a monthly pet fee moving forward? At 50 dollars per month.  A five year tenant would pay to replace the carpet 3-4 times. (depending on your carpet/labor costs) We install at 1.25-1.5 a ft.

Most people on here are getting away from carpet and moving to vp/tile. We still use carpet and treat it as a desposible commodity. It actually has become and additional income stream. Through pet fees and less turnover.

"I was happy to get a qualified tenant who paid on time and took good care of the house."

A tenant who allows their dog to pee all over the carpet is a person who takes good care of the house?  Might want to rethink that.  ;-)

A few thoughts:

1) Get rid of carpeting.  It's one of the worst flooring choices for a rental.  All new construction I see has hard wood floors, tile, or other resilient surfaces.  Let tenants purchase and ruin their own area rugs.  Carpets are terrible for people with allergies too.  Carpets will never be clean enough once a pooch has dropped dander all over them.

2) Depreciation is a tax concept.  Do not use this to determining the value of your carpet.  Case in point: residential real estate depreciates at 27.5 years.  If a tenant decided to cut a hole in the wall of your 28-year-old rental, would you not charge them the full damage repair?  As you can see, it is ridiculous to say that if a carpet is 5-7 years old it has no value.  Pet pee is not normal wear and tear: it is damage.  Charge for it as damages to be repaired, which may include full replacement cost.  Your judge might not allow this, but shoot for the stars and hope for the moon.

3) Do regular maintenance inspections to avoid finding years of damage after it's too late.  I go thru each property 3 times per year.  If you don't feel comfy doing it, it's worth paying your handyman/helper $40-$50 to stop by and walk thru each room checking for leaking on the ceiling (and finding unauthorized pets, ex-con boyfriends, etc).  Have him check all the "wet" areas too. Kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, water heater, etc.  Water leaks along have cost me more than almost any tenant damage. 

Best wishes!

@Russell Brazil

@Peter B.

@Erik Whiting  

@Colleen F.

Thank you all for sharing your experiences, it helped me a lot. I guess I did ok if the IRS depreciation schedule is 5 years for carpet. I like Peter's method of charging a per dollar fee for the pet on top of the rent. Is that per pet or multiple?

The tenants cleaned the carpet 3x a year at their expense, so much cleaning that the carpet doesn't look good anymore. I agree to move away from carpeting to flooring. 

Erik, I like how you position that pet pee is not normal wear and tear but it's damage. I am going to implement your "handyman" theory to check on the maintenance of the house. I can't agree with you more about water leaks just paid $1,000 to a plumber last week but it was such a fluck thing the actual connection of the pipes got disconnected. The property is in CA the ground moves and it caused a leak from the bathroom to the ceiling in the garage, however my home warranty covered it.    

Here is what I did in a similar situation. The carpet was a medium grade Stainmaster with an expected life of 10 years. It was killed by the tenants at about 4 years of age. I got a bid for replacement, knocked off the 4 years and charged them for the 6 years (60%) of use that I didn't get out of it. They didn't argue with the numbers. 

I have a tenant moving out, they have been with me for 5 years the carpet was not new when they moved in

I have been told by a local property manager that around here a judge will disallow ANY deduction for carpets older than three years.

Any investors from AZ-Scottsdale area that can chime in about what a judge will accept like what @jon Holdman is suggesting?

In CA, any carpet over 5-7 years is pretty much valued at ZERO.... you won't get anything. If the carpet was 5+ when this tenant was put in the unit, you wont be able to ding them for pee or not. Do you have actual documentation of the age?

AND the tenant can show they cleaned it 3x per year.....

For those that have been deducting for carpet older than 5-7 years and getting away with it, you are either in a VERY landlord friendly state OR your tenants just don't know the law and aren't going to put up a fight for the $$

Replace it with other flooring and move on...... or roll the dice, deduct and hope your tenants are lazy......and be prepared to lose that part in court

@Ned J. I'm at the point of moving on as you suggest thanks to everyone's feedback.  Lesson learned: add flooring not carpeting.

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