Carpets are one of those items that won’t stay looking good for more than a few years, even if they’re well maintained and professionally cleaned regularly. This often results in landlords having to replace them between each tenancy in their properties.

This has resulted in many landlords asking whether they should have to pay to replace carpeting or if the cost can ever be passed on to the current tenant. Below is a little information regarding the replacement of carpeting, security deposit and knowing when tenants can legally be billed for this expense.

Damage or Regular Wear and Tear?

All carpets will experience general wear and tear over time, and this includes aspects like discoloring, fading and thinning in areas that experience high foot traffic levels. Current laws state that landlords may not bill tenants for standard wear and tear, so if carpeting has become dirty, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to have it cleaned between tenancies.

On the other hand, damage is normally caused by a single incident or action, or continued abuse and examples of this include rips and stains. In cases where permanent damage such as ripping or staining has occurred, landlords are then within their rights to bill the current tenant for repair, replacement and/or cleaning. If the tenant refuses to cover this cost, a landlord can withhold a portion of the security deposit that equals the amount required to clean or replace the carpeting.

Determining Fair Security Deposit Deductions for Carpeting

Because security deposits don’t form part of rental payments, landlords must follow the correct procedure when withholding all or part of these funds. The steps below will help ensure that this is done as I should be.

Take Move-in and Move-out Pictures

Before new tenants occupy your property, it’s a good idea to take time stamped photos that document the condition of existing carpeting (and everything else). When they move out, take new time stamped photos to compare the condition of carpeting after their occupancy. This will help determine if general wear and tear or misuse will be the reason for having to replace the carpets.

Calculate the Appropriate Security Deposit Deduction

If deliberate damage has occurred during their stay, the tenant can be expected to pay for replacement carpeting. However, the age of the carpet must be considered as well – if it was brand new, the tenant can be held liable for the full cost, but only a portion if the carpeting was already showing signs of wear when they moved in.

If part of a tenant’s security deposit is being withheld to cover the cost of carpet replacement, ensure that a document detailing this is handed to them. Information on this paperwork should specify the percentage of money that is being withheld and when they will be able to expect the balance of funds to be returned to them (if applicable).

Keep in mind that standard wear and tear on carpeting is normal, while damage caused by misuse or a single careless incident is not. If you’ve been considering purchasing a property for fix and flip or investment purposes and you need to obtain a loan to do so, contact us today.