Should the tenant be billed for full carpet replacement?

24 Replies

Full disclosure: I am the tenant in this situation. I just started house hacking and this is from my apartment lease that just ended.

So in the 2 years I lived at my old apartment, my dog had probably 6 accidents (urine or vomit). Each time, I cleaned it up immediately with Resolve. There were no visible stains or odors (my girlfriend who didn't live there agrees) but when they did their walkthrough, they found these areas by shining a blacklight over them. They decided to replace the carpet for the entire apartment and send me the bill instead of just using a carpet cleaning service. Basically my question is just whether or not this is typical and consistent with what you guys would do in this situation. If so, I will obviously pay for it since it is my fault but I wanted to make sure first that they were not going overboard before I pay over $1,000 for it. If this is unusual, is there anything I can do about it? Thanks for any input!

@Bret Kingcade I’ve never heard of inspectIng a carpet with black light Were you paying a pet fee in addition to your rent? Was the carpet new when you moved in? I would reply back and state that you’re happy to pay the cost of what the carpet cleaning would have been, but since there were no visible stains, no damage, you expect the remainder of your deposit back. If the carpet was a few years old before you moved in too, the cost should be depreciated a bit too.

First off, if they can justify removing the carpet and replacing it, they would need to bill you a prorated amount based on age. If you lived there for 2 years, they received 2 years of useful life and have no justification for billing you 100% of the replacement cost. How much they can bill is slightly subjective, but the most common lifespan for carpets I hear is 5 years, with some saying as low as 3. If we assume a 5 year lifespan, you used 2 years of it, and they lost 3. They can bill you 3/5 of the replacement cost. That assumes carpet was brand new when you moved in. If it was older when you moved in in that works even better for you.

Whether or not they were even justified in replacing it is another issue. If you have photos proving the carpet was in good shape when you left, I would absolutely push back and have no problem going to court. This is especially true if they cannot provide you photos of before you moved in and photos of the damage. In this instance, I would ahev no problem going to court to get that deposit.

@Bret Kingcade Animals ruin flooring and carpet . I can’t blame the guy for trying . you admit to the animal relieving itself on the carpet which of coarse ruins carpet and padding . Resolve is a bandaid . I would think he would only be able to keep your deposit . The real question is why were you allowing a dog like that to destroy someone elses property ? Is having a mutt that pees all over the place worth a thousand dollars to you ?

same scenario here.  just move from apartment to my live-in flip.   I didn't get a chance to have the bedroom carpet cleaned and they just replaced it, and prorated the cost.  I didn't even have pets, it probably just needed a cleaning.  :(

Originally posted by @Mike McCarthy :
@Bret Kingcade I’ve never heard of inspectIng a carpet with black light

Were you paying a pet fee in addition to your rent? Was the carpet new when you moved in?

I would reply back and state that you’re happy to pay the cost of what the carpet cleaning would have been, but since there were no visible stains, no damage, you expect the remainder of your deposit back.

If the carpet was a few years old before you moved in too, the cost should be depreciated a bit too.

 This is exactly how I replied to them but they don't want to budge. Yes, I was paying a pet fee. They are saying the carpet was just over a year old when I moved in.

Originally posted by @Andrew B. :

First off, if they can justify removing the carpet and replacing it, they would need to bill you a prorated amount based on age. If you lived there for 2 years, they received 2 years of useful life and have no justification for billing you 100% of the replacement cost. How much they can bill is slightly subjective, but the most common lifespan for carpets I hear is 5 years, with some saying as low as 3. If we assume a 5 year lifespan, you used 2 years of it, and they lost 3. They can bill you 3/5 of the replacement cost. That assumes carpet was brand new when you moved in. If it was older when you moved in in that works even better for you.

Whether or not they were even justified in replacing it is another issue. If you have photos proving the carpet was in good shape when you left, I would absolutely push back and have no problem going to court. This is especially true if they cannot provide you photos of before you moved in and photos of the damage. In this instance, I would ahev no problem going to court to get that deposit.

 They are claiming it was just over a year old when I moved in and are prorating based on a 7 year carpet life. Would you mind taking a look at the pictures I added that they are using to justify the replacement? I don't know whether or not this would be considered "significant enough" to warrant replacing. One thing to note, 1 of their pictures is literally just the indentation in the carpet from where a trash can, water bowl, and food bowl always sat. I pointed this out and their response was that it "looked bleached" and "
showed that chemicals were used" once under a blacklight... I'm just trying to make sure that I'm not being taken advantage of.

Originally posted by @Bret Kingcade :
Originally posted by @Mike McCarthy:
@Bret Kingcade I’ve never heard of inspectIng a carpet with black light

Were you paying a pet fee in addition to your rent? Was the carpet new when you moved in?

I would reply back and state that you’re happy to pay the cost of what the carpet cleaning would have been, but since there were no visible stains, no damage, you expect the remainder of your deposit back.

If the carpet was a few years old before you moved in too, the cost should be depreciated a bit too.

 This is exactly how I replied to them but they don't want to budge. Yes, I was paying a pet fee. They are saying the carpet was just over a year old when I moved in.

Exactly!  As said above, at best, carpets have a 5-year life before they are fully depreciated.  You should definitely attempt to negotiate with them.  Talk about the carpet life expectancy and be willing to accept them taking half off the cost from your security deposit and everyone can call it a day.  They are ENRICHING themselves, by making you pay for the entirety of brand new carpet.  They are entitled to their damages, not a bonanza.  If they refuse, take them to small claims court.  I'd guess you'd do at least as well as that offer, if not better.

@Bret Kingcade

I agree with your assessment. This outfit is doing their best to make you pay the bulk of the carpet cost replacement. It's sadly an extremely common tactic to offset flooring costs. 7-year costs, blacklight, no pro-rating, gimme a break. You have carpet and allow pets or infants, it's gonna happen.

It's come to the point when the ONLY reason to have any sort of carpet in rentals these days is to play games like this.

They're going to try to strongarm you. If it's a good-sized outfit, they'll get a lawyer on the phone to tell you that they've done this a million times and they're certain to win. This is all baloney. They know they'll lose if they take you to court on this.

Well, those pictures will not help you in court. They don't look good. I agree with others that state you should just try and negotiate perhaps a little lower price. Based on pics alone, I'd say do not file anything in court. For $1,000, you might just need to call this a life lesson. But I'm no judge, so....

Originally posted by @Anthony Wick :

Well, those pictures will not help you in court. They don't look good. I agree with others that state you should just try and negotiate perhaps a little lower price. Based on pics alone, I'd say do not file anything in court. For $1,000, you might just need to call this a life lesson. But I'm no judge, so....

Thanks for the reply. I have no experience with replacing carpet so I honestly have no idea whether or not this level of damage is significant. If they refuse to come down whatsoever on anything, do you think it would be a waste of time to try small claims based on those pictures? I also don't know how much of a hassle or cost commitment that process would be either so any input at all would be valuable to me. Thanks!

Carpet should generally be depreciated. Those photos are not helping your case though. You don’t need a black light to see it’s pretty bad. Not sure what you were talking about when you said “no visible stains”. 

As advised I would try to negotiate but as Anthony points out the pictures are damming. Not worth fighting in court so push back as hard as possible up to that point. Ask them what exactly the pet fee you were paying is used for. If they do not have enough money from your deposit to cover the cost they will be in the same situation in having to take you to court to collect.

If your deposit does cover all the money they are claiming you are probably SOL.

Tenants with pets must be prepared to pay for the luxury of having animals.

According to the IRS (and not someone's opinion), carpet is depreciated over 5 years:

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p527.pdf

Look on p9 in the box.

Therefore, I would counter them at the 5 year depreciation calculation and GET IT IN WRITING as terms of the settlement so they don't come back on you.

Pet smells have a way of coming back no matter how the carpet was cleaned, so I can understand the replacement. However, they must depreciate it right to be legal.

That is why I NEVER put carpet in my rentals.  One tenant can ruin it in a matter of days.

@Bret Kingcade How much carpet was that? 1000 bucks for carpet replacement seems high. Was the whole apartment carpet? The pictures are pretty damning. Is the deposit less then 1000? If it is less then 1000, I would say let them keep it and say you won’t be paying more. If it’s more, try to get it down to like 4-600 of what you pay and then get the rest back. On a side note next time just find an apartment that doesn’t do major deposits. Both of mine have had like 150 dollar deposits. They’ll replace the carpet probably (I have no pets) but they won’t bill me for it.
Originally posted by @Caleb Heimsoth :
@Bret Kingcade

How much carpet was that? 1000 bucks for carpet replacement seems high. Was the whole apartment carpet?

The pictures are pretty damning. Is the deposit less then 1000? If it is less then 1000, I would say let them keep it and say you won’t be paying more.

If it’s more, try to get it down to like 4-600 of what you pay and then get the rest back.

On a side note next time just find an apartment that doesn’t do major deposits. Both of mine have had like 150 dollar deposits. They’ll replace the carpet probably (I have no pets) but they won’t bill me for it.

Caleb, the total deposit was only $350 for my 2 bedroom apartment. They e-mailed me after my move out requesting an additional $1218.25 beyond keeping my deposit and threatening collections if I don't pay it. The whole apartment except the kitchen was carpet. Not everywhere was stained but they are saying they replaced the entire apartment's carpet because they can't seam together replacement carpet of a different color. They are basing it off a depreciated cost from an original install price of $1440 and claiming a 7 year life cycle. I don't really know what to do. I'd hate to get sent to collections... There was a few other random charges in there mostly from my roommate not fully cleaning up but over $1,000 is carpet-related.

Originally posted by @Bret Kingcade :
Originally posted by @Caleb Heimsoth:
@Bret Kingcade

How much carpet was that? 1000 bucks for carpet replacement seems high. Was the whole apartment carpet?

The pictures are pretty damning. Is the deposit less then 1000? If it is less then 1000, I would say let them keep it and say you won’t be paying more.

If it’s more, try to get it down to like 4-600 of what you pay and then get the rest back.

On a side note next time just find an apartment that doesn’t do major deposits. Both of mine have had like 150 dollar deposits. They’ll replace the carpet probably (I have no pets) but they won’t bill me for it.

Caleb, the total deposit was only $350 for my 2 bedroom apartment. They e-mailed me after my move out requesting an additional $1218.25 beyond keeping my deposit and threatening collections if I don't pay it. The whole apartment except the kitchen was carpet. Not everywhere was stained but they are saying they replaced the entire apartment's carpet because they can't seam together replacement carpet of a different color. They are basing it off a depreciated cost from an original install price of $1440 and claiming a 7 year life cycle. I don't really know what to do. I'd hate to get sent to collections... There was a few other random charges in there mostly from my roommate not fully cleaning up but over $1,000 is carpet-related.

I would definitely fight that if they don’t budge.  If they split it down the middle, I would pay it and be done.  (I prefer to avoid lawyers when possible)

You do not want this going to collections. If they are not prepared to budge you should pay up and put it behind you but you may still be in a position to negotiate. They may be happy getting something now as opposed to going colections. Make an offer rather than simply dispute th ecost. 

We’re the stains only in one room? I understand not seaming carpet in one room, but there’s no reason that they should replace more than the one room. 

You may also want to check your landlord tenant laws in your state. Some/many states require the landlord to provide the bill for replacement (not what it cost the last time they did it). 

I do feel like you should be paying something, but $1400 is steep for a few stains in one room. 

PLUS you’ve paid an additional $xx in pet fees because of the additional wear and tear pets cause on the apartment. 

I don’t like it. (But then again, my opinion doesn’t matter much) :)

Originally posted by @Bret Kingcade :

@Caleb Heimsoth They just finally responded saying they are not willing to change the charges whatsoever. In your opinion, is it worth it to try and fight this in small claims or should I just accept my fate at this point?... Thanks.

Depends what a lawyer costs.  Unless it’s thousands I tend to just write a check and be done with it.  I hate dealing with stuff like this.

You’re right On the border so could go either way

@Bret Kingcade

This continues to be classic jerk-o behavior on their part. Why every renter hates living in big multifamilies and dealing with bullying property managers with no skin in the game. It makes small self-managing landlords like me money, so I should probably just tell you to swallow this.

I'd fight. They're screwing you. But figuring out what the judge'll think, that's a different story. I'd still fight.

@Bret Kingcade - if 1-2 days off work is worth the potential money differential, then fight it. It’s definitely not worth being in collections. You’ll show up in court maybe 1-2 times to present your evidence to the judge. You’ll have to sue them in landlord tenant court.

The images were pretty convincing you damaged it, unless the subfloor stains could have been from a previous pet. At best you can ask for a prorata and nothing from rooms the pet wasn’t in. If you rent again, pick something with vinyl plank. If the money is that important to you - you probably owe 2/5 or 4/7 cost based on Actual invoice with previous invoice with your unit number showing when they last changed it. Verify charges are fair - Cheap Carpet and pad is about $2-2.5psf installed. More for smaller jobs like $500-600 for just a room.

I've fought this, successfully.  Landlord tried to bill me for carpet that was used when I moved in, and I was there 4 years.  I avoided court.

I looked up the statutes for my state, and wrote them a letter, sent certified.  Stated that, upon speaking with an atty, here was the situation.  Carpet was at least 1 year old when I moved in, and I was there 4 years, therefore 5 years old.  Quoted the statutes about wear and tear, and life expectancy to them.  Advised them I would be happy to meet them in court to discuss this, but my atty charges $xxx per hour, and if they failed to prevail in court, I would counter sue for relief, for both my lost time and his fees.  


I never heard from them again.