When Must a Landlord Replace the Carpet?

by Elle Smith, Demand Media
    If your landlord installs new carpet, he might raise your rent.

    If your landlord installs new carpet, he might raise your rent.

    It's bad enough you have to live with '70s-style green shag carpeting, but when it gets so grungy it crackles under your feet or starts to grow before your eyes, you might want to have a chat with the landlord. Replacing carpet makes a place feel fresh and new, but it is a large expense that many landlords put off as long as possible. It's your right to complain, and the landlord should lay new carpet as necessary, but landlords are obligated to replace your cruddy carpet only under specific circumstances.

    Health Hazard

    Landlords are obligated to make rental property safe and habitable. If carpeting is moldy, worn or very unsanitary, it can pose a health risk. Carpet that is ripped or torn can cause you to fall and injure yourself. Nails from carpet tack strips can pierce a bare foot. A landlord must replace carpet that poses these types of safety hazards.

    Aesthetics

    It is a common myth that carpets must be replaced when the tenancy changes. But if the carpet is in good condition and just the wrong color, stained or won't stay clean, that's your problem, not the landlord's. If the carpet was there when you moved in, you accepted its condition when you signed the lease. Always complete a walk-through when you move in and note the condition of the carpeting. You may need to prove damage that is not your fault when you move out.

    Tenant Damage

    If you've damaged the carpet, the landlord is not likely to replace it on his dime. In fact, he is entitled to deduct damages from your security deposit. Ordinary wear and tear does not justify a deduction from your deposit. In some states, the landlord may bring legal action against a former tenant if the damage exceeds the security deposit.

    Asking for New Carpet

    Your landlord doesn't want to get sued for an injury caused by carpeting. If you have a good working relationship with your landlord, nicely point out the problem. If he doesn't respond, put your request in writing. Common sense dictates that carpet wears out in five to 10 years. If you pay your rent on time and take care of the property, your landlord probably doesn't want to lose you.

    About the Author

    Elle Smith has been an advertising professional for more than 25 years. Her work for ABC, CBS and Sony Pictures Television has appeared on radio, on air, in print and outdoors. In addition, Smith has more than 20 years experience in marketing, graphic arts, commercial photography and print production, and is a licensed real estate agent with property management certification in California.

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