My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: California
I am a former tenant of a particular Landlord, and we are becoming embroiled in a dispute over carpet Damages to the Home that I rented for one year.
I want to do the RIGHT thing in this situation. But, I also do not want to be taken advantage of or pay for damages that aren’t really “damages”….i will explain below.
My former Fiancée and I moved into a 5-bedroom house in October of 2013. The rent was $3100, and I paid a deposit of $3100, and an additional Animal Deposit of $1000., due to my Fiancée’s 2 small dogs and 1 cat residing with us. Unfortunately, my relationship ended, and my fiancée moved out the following August, about 2.5 months prior to the lease expiration. My intention was to live there through the remainder of the lease, and then move elsewhere. Unfortunately, the month before the lease ended, I was laid off from my job of 7 years. This made finding a new place to rent nearly impossible. My landlord kindly agreed to allow me to apply my security deposit to the cost of rent while trying to find a place that would rent to a man without a job. I eventually found a place, and made arrangements to move.
The landlord made it clear that he wanted the property returned to him in “exactly the same condition that he gave it to us”, and I made every effort to comply. I hired a professional Housecleaning service and a carpet cleaning company to come in and do a thorough cleaning, top to bottom. This cost me around $800, which was very painful because I was now living on unemployment. But I wanted to return the property in excellent condition, and that is exactly what I thought I did.
Because there were animals in the house, and there were a couple of places that were stained significantly, I made certain to hire a carpet cleaning company that also dealt in Insurance Carpet restoration, to be SURE that the carpet was dealt with properly. I asked them to inform me if they felt that there were any areas that needed to be replaced. It would have been in their financial interest to point out areas that needed replacement, because they also provided carpet installation, but they felt that their cleaning was very thorough, and brought the carpet back to a state of being near- new….(note: the carpet was new when we moved in at the beginning of the lease, ACCORDING TO THE LANDLORD….he has offered no proof of that). Upon completion of the House Cleaning and Carpet cleaning, I performed a walkthrough of the entire house, and I was VERY, VERY pleased at the outcome. There was NO pet odor of any kind, the carpets appeared brand-new throughout the house, and I felt extremely confident that I had satisfied the landlords request.
I informed the landlord that the cleaning was completed, and I told him that I was leaving the key in a particular place. He acknowledged that he had gone to the property, and had received the key from the location I left it. Upon his acknowledgment of the Key Surrender, I assumed that our transaction was complete, and that all was well.
Several Days later, I received the following text from him: “the carpet is ruined from piss stains. How do you want to handle it?”
That shocked me, as there were NO Urine stains visible ANYWHERE on the premises as I left it. I responded that I had observed NO stains anywhere, and that the cleaning/restoration company had informed me that the cleaning process had been a complete success.
I asked the landlord for a written letter of demand, detailing what the damages were, and what he expected in terms of compensation. He stated that the “Carpet is ruined throughout the entire house”. His demand is that I pay for the replacement of the carpet for the ENTIRE HOUSE at a cost of $4100.
As evidence, he presented three photos showing several stains in areas of the carpet UNDERNEATH….but NOT on the top of the carpet…..only on the floor-facing side. He made NO mention of odor, and I did not detect ANY trace of odor when I inspected the premises.
I find his demand that I replace the ENTIRE house of carpet to be absurd. There was furniture and large area rugs covering most of the carpet in the house, 4 of the 5 bedrooms were off limits to the animals, and there a child-gate that kept them out of the hall ways in most areas. Yes, there were some stains UNDERNEATH the carpet….which would probably include coffee stains, and other liquids….we spilled things as people do, but we always cleaned up our messes. And there are going to be stains underneath the carpet from these spills. But….It is my contention that even though there are stains in various places UNSEEN, that does NOT render the carpet unusable at ALL. And demanding that we replace the ENTIRE HOUSE is extreme, to say the least.
We were VERY good tenants while we were there. I liked the house, I liked the landlord, and I want to do the RIGHT thing. But I think his demand is just plain WRONG.
As you in this forum are landlords, I would like YOUR take on this situation. Am I wrong in feeling this way?
Thank you for taking the time to read this and reply!