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  1. #1
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    Dec 2014
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    Default Landlord Demands Replacement of Carpet in the Entire House

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: California

    Hi, Landlords/Experts:

    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!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    1,024

    Default Re: Landlord Demands Replacement of Carpet in the Entire House.is This Right

    If there are pet damages from urine, cleaning (even deep cleaning) will not remove these. This is especially true with damages from cats whose diet contains higher amounts of protein and thus stronger urea content in urine. Often the only solution is removal of the carpet AND the padding AND sealing (or sometimes removal) of the subfloor to take care of the issue since, even after cleaning, the odor WILL return.

    Do you owe for carpet replacement for the entire house? Depends on how widespread these damages were. Do you owe for the full value of the carpet replacement? No, only the depreciated value based on the remaining life of the carpet. And $4100 may be the depreciated cost for a 5 bedroom house in California.

    Frankly, you two were very good tenants while you lived there. Your fiancee broke her end of the lease by moving out 2.5 months before it ended and you couldn't pay the rent for the last month you live there and the landlord was kind enough to allow you to use your security deposit as rent, leaving him nothing to cover what he now claims is carpet damage from these pets.

    If you disagree with what he contends, then don't pay and it would be up to the landlord to determine if he wishes to continue this in court or through a collection agency.

    Gail

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    672

    Default Re: Landlord Demands Replacement of Carpet in the Entire House.is This Right

    Did you take pictures before you left? They would not be enough to eliminate any charges, but might help with the contention that “Carpet is ruined throughout the entire house”. You might ask the cleaning company for a statement and be sure you have your receipt for payment to them available. Won't eliminate all responsibility on your part, but might help to mitigate damages.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    Florida
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    Default Re: Landlord Demands Replacement of Carpet in the Entire House.is This Right

    Was the carpet brand new when you rented? If not, you are certainly not liable for 100% of the carpet even if the entire house did need replacement. The problem with animal stains is that you are not going to find a sympathetic court if you end up in court. There are so many tenants who are irresponsible with pets, and the presumption will be that if the landlord noticed then there must have been a problem. If he does sue you for damages, you can find out the date the carpet was installed prior to going to court. Carpet depreciates in residential rental property over a five year period and is considered used up for tax purposes after that time. So if the carpet was already 3 years old, you would only owe for 40% even if you did ruin 100% of it. But that seems like a stretch on the part of the landlord, and he will have to prove that all of the carpet has to be replaced somehow.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Landlord Demands Replacement of Carpet in the Entire House.is This Right

    When it comes to damages claims, there is not a "one size fits all" depreciation period for carpet in a rental home. The California landlord guide uses a possible ten year carpet life expectancy for carpet in one of its examples.

  6. #6
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    Jul 2007
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    Florida
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    Default Re: Landlord Demands Replacement of Carpet in the Entire House.is This Right

    The point is that a tenant is not responsible for 100% of the replacement cost of carpet. From personal experience, you're lucky to get 10 years out of carpeting in an owner-occupied home before it needs replacing, regardless of what any guide book states. Shaw, for example offers a 10 year warranty for wear on its basic carpets but only when used in an owner-occupied dwelling. And once the book value has been depreciated to zero, it would be up to the landlord to establish that the carpet had some higher fair market value than zero.

    Quote Quoting the California example
    One common method of calculating the deduction for replacement prorates the total cost of replacement so that the tenant pays only for the remaining useful life of the item that the tenant has damaged or destroyed. For example, suppose a tenant has damaged beyond repair an eight-year-old carpet that had a life expectancy of ten years, and that a replacement carpet of similar quality would cost $1,000. the landlord could properly charge only $200 for the two years’ worth of life (use) that would have remained if the tenant had not damaged the carpet.
    That quote in no way implies that all carpet of all quality lasts ten years. In fact, most landlord's put the cheapest carpet in rentals knowing they will likely have to replace it every five years or so. As a tenant, my going in position would be five years and then challenge the landlord to show they put in very expensive carpet with a long warranty against wear, and to demonstrate its value is more than the IRS' depreciated value. I don't think pointing to this example in a guide book is going to convince a judge that the carpet in this rental unit had a ten year life.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Default Re: Landlord Demands Replacement of Carpet in the Entire House

    Some of you appear to be misunderstanding. When the landlord is talking about carpet damage, he is talking about even if the carpet was salvageable, the padding needs replaced and the subfloor cleaned. Whether the entire carpet can be removed, these performed and the cleaned carpet relaid is likely possible but does not change the damage done. Even if reused, the carpet would need to be cleaned with a clean surface underneath as the cleaning process itself would draw urine into its base from the padding and subfloor. This is a damage issue, not a wear issue.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Landlord Demands Replacement of Carpet in the Entire House.is This Right

    Bubba, I've commented on depreciation hundreds of times, so you're not bringing anything new to the table. It's simply important to note that there's no hard-and-fast rule as to the number of years a landlord may use for carpet depreciation. For a typical rental, ten years would be on the long side, way long if the landlord is using cheap carpet, but often these issues must be battled out in court.
    Quote Quoting Disagreeable
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    Some of you appear to be misunderstanding. When the landlord is talking about carpet damage, he is talking about even if the carpet was salvageable, the padding needs replaced and the subfloor cleaned.
    Cleaning / deodorizing the subfloor is not part of replacing carpet, although it would be chargeable as damage if necessitated by cat urine.

    The carpet pad is typically changed at the same time as carpet for a number of reasons, including the fact that carpet pricing often bundles in a 'free' pad, that a worn pad will typically not provide proper resilience for a new carpet, and that most carpet manufacturers include a warranty provision voiding the warranty if new carpet padding is not installed.

    If you look at past discussions about cat urine in carpet, you will find that we're not talking only about dog urine-type problems, where odors or dried urine might be lifted into new carpet. Cat urine, if not neutralized, will chemically react with the pad, both breaking it down and creating the infamous cat urine "ammonia" odor.

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