Carpet Ruined by cat - SD questions

8 Replies

I am really struggling with this one.

Elderly tenant who became ill and could not longer take are of his cat, who ultimately used the hallway by the bathroom, the linen closet by the bathroom and the closet in the bedroom as its litter box. 

Tenant has since gone to assisted living. The carpet is approx. 5-6 years old, new when he moved in. 

Its on a concrete floor.

Carpet company would not tear it out citing health regulations.. Would need to take special precautions etc etc. So we tore it out. 

Wow. Carpet and padding wet from cat pee. Smell was over-powering. Cat puke stains in various places. Just awful.

This was an inherited tenant with no pet deposit. State is WI.

If I am correct, because of the age of the carpet, I can't charge anything for the carpet replacement. AND, I do not want to charge him for the whole cost. He was a good tenant up until he got ill. The SD was $500.

We had to tear out the carpet, padding, scrap up the glued down areas of padding, even remove the tack strips in areas because they were soaked, scrub the floor, put an enzyme solution down, cover with plastic, then seal the floor with two coats of Kilz before the new carpet could go in.

Plus, the normal cleaning because obviously he could not clean the appliances, etc. 

If I break it all down time wise, it eats up his deposit and then some. 

Should I just cut my loss and return all of his SD, or itemize it out, minus the cost of the actual carpet replacement, which would essentially leave him with losing his SD..

@Tracie Van I know these are tough decisions but you're running a business. It doesn't matter how much you like your tenant you need to follow your lease and the local/state laws. 

We would itemize the deductions and take them from his SD then send him a bill for any repairs above and beyond the SD.

Best of luck!

I agree with Cameron.  The house was damaged and while it wasn't intentional, you still have to pay to have it returned to the original condition.  Itemize the expenses and deduct them from the security deposit.

Who said you can't charge for carpet? Average life span of carpet is 7-10 years and that depends on quality and many other factors. This is the same tenant for the life of the carpet and the damage is clearly from the cat.

Now, he's a sick person that can't possibly pay so I probably wouldn't bother going after them for everything owed. Use the deposit for cleaning and close the account.

Thank you everyone. 

@Nathan G. - I thought it was based on depreciation which was 5 years. But yes, I feel like sending him a bill for the carpet is bad karma. He likely needs every bit of money he can use for his care at this point. 

I am going to itemize our expenses to prep for the new carpet and clean and go with that. Note; it's only a 1BR so it's not that bad; $1,500. I think that if his circumstances were different I would act accordingly. The plus side is, it looks like I have it rented already. 

@Tracie Van according to whom?

HUD recommends a life-expectancy of five years but do you know anyone that replaces carpet in their residence every five years? Even on a rental, carpet should last ten years with ordinary wear-and-tear and ordinary maintenance.

You're not replacing it because of "ordinary" wear-and-tear of someone walking over it. The cat pissed all over it. That's not "ordinary" and the tenant should be charged for it.

I don't know what kind of deposit he had but I would keep it to cover a portion of the cost.

@Tracie Van

Hi Tracie,

Well, the way I see it the carpet seems to have been (numerically) at the end of its service life (all used up) for getting market rent from the unit (for a reasonable length of time with a new tenant).

Since the guy is in now ill and in the old folks home he probably wouldn't be able to fight you in court on the charge but service life seems to be the issue here not the emotions of the situation.

The carpet should have been in your CAPEX savings (cost to replace grossed up to the new cost at the end of service life).

It's a regular semi-predictable expense in this business. Many people set aside some amount of the rent money monthly to cover things like this (carpet, water heater, roof, etc...)

That way if it needs replacement before the end of service life due to tenant damages charge the security deposit. If it exceeds service life the CAPEX will cover it when it needs replacing.

Carpet wears out over time (that is what tenants pay for (shelter and wearing things out), it's fresh when its new and at every turn you need to think about if it will bring market rent when you re-rent it and also bring market rent for the average length of tenancy you have for the unit (how long your new tenants typically stay).

If the carpet was a year and half old when he moved OUT and in that condition I would consider that Fresh carpet and charge the full amount for it if it needed replacement.

If older than that just do the math from day one, to move out day, as a percentage of service life left. Tenant pays a percent and Carpet CAPEX pays a percent.

When a tenant moves out, if for some reason it seems usable (able to bring market rent) past its numeric service life then pocket the CAPEX monthly set aside amount vs savings it.

Since you are in a stronger position you could hammer it to vulnerable people (and tenants you personally don't like) and keep their security deposit for things like this, and hope to win the court cases some will bring against you--but that's not how I do business. I like to have a set method for handling things and stick to it.

You can do anything you want, but that's just how I like to do business.

Just my 2 cents.

Good Luck!

Also, in situations like this try to find a new carpet installer who will do the job. Pet messes are par for the course in the carpet business. Not all will do it, but some will.

If you can't find one, then manually cut the problem area out with a box knife and let them handle the rest of the carpet and tack strips.

And in some areas you may be able to get market rent by replacing just (for instance) the bedroom if that's the bad area and have the installer Seam the rooms together.

This color is what I call Apartment Tan, it comes in various shades.