Just as there isn’t a standard tenant, there aren’t any standard landlords or homes for rent. They are, instead, an immense mix of good and bad tenants, landlords, and homes. This is what makes it exceptionally difficult to answer questions such as Do Landlords Replace Carpet? There are general guidelines on what should happen, but these vary by state and just because something should happen, doesn’t always mean that it does. As a result, here is a quick and compact answer followed by a detailed explanation.
Do Landlords Replace Carpet? Yes, landlords should replace carpet if it becomes worn if damage has occurred which is not the fault of the tenant, or after a period of time specified in local regulations. A tenant is responsible for replacing the carpet if it becomes damaged as a result of the tenant’s actions – not including normal wear and tear.
Do Landlords Replace Carpet?
Yes, landlords do replace carpets but while they can, and do, replace carpets in their rental units, there are times when it is the responsibility of the tenant.
Whan Landlords Have To Replace A Carpet
There are only a handful of specific circumstances where a landlord MUST replace the carpet.
The Carpet Is Dangerous
A “dangerous carpet” seems like a bit of a bad comedy concept but stay with me for a moment on this one. If a carpet has become so worn that there are holes or the potential for holes, that carpet becomes a trip hazard, that carpet can be considered dangerous.
Likewise, if nails or other fixings that have been used to secure the carpet become loose or protrude from the carpet, this too can constitute a dangerous carpet.
The Carpet Is Unsanitary
Nobody should be expected to, potentially, walk barefoot on someone else’s dirt in their own home and as such landlords are expected to clean carpets between tenants.
However, if a carpet is heavily stained, has any hint of being home to bugs or other critters, gives off a strong or unpleasant smell or is in any other way unsanitary then the carpet must be replaced.
This requirement for replacement also applies if the carpet becomes unsanitary during your tenancy, assuming of course that the condition of the carpet is not your fault.
Accidental Carpet Damage
If the carpet in a rental home becomes damaged accidentally or through a natural disaster such as a flood, and as long as the tenant has done nothing to cause that damage, the landlord must replace the carpet.
In all three of these cases, the landlord must replace the carpet as soon as can be reasonably expected. If the state of the carpet renders the home uninhabitable then it is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure their tenant either has suitable and comparable accommodation. If an alternative place to live is not available, for example, another condo in the complex or, another home owned by the landlord then they must pay for the tenant to stay in a hotel.
When Landlords Should Replace Carpet
Taking good care of their rental units is in the best interests of a landlord and as such the vast majority stay on top of repairs and maintenance and this includes the replacement of carpets. There are many guidelines concerning what could be considered as an appropriate lifespan of a carpet but in most jurisdictions, there aren’t any specific time periods written into legislation.
In addition, not all carpets or rentals are created equal.
For example, a luxury rental home may have a high-end carpet with a guarantee of 25 years while a less expensive unit might have what is sometimes called “rental grade” carpet which may only be guaranteed for five years.
Consequently, lawmakers have declined to set a specific lifespan for a carpet.
The nearest there is to a definitive answer to the question “How old does a carpet need to be before the landlord has to replace it?” are the guidelines produced by HUD for the owners and managers of HUD-funded, affordable housing. In appendix 5D “Sample Life Expectancies Chart” it states that the life expectancy of “Plush” carpeting is 5 years in a home occupied by a family and seven years in the home of an elderly person.
If there isn’t much wrong with the carpet in your rental home, don’t expect to get very far by claiming it’s older than five years old and as such requires replacement. The condition of the carpet will always be a more important deciding factor than its age.
When Landlords Don’t Have To Replace Carpet
It probably comes as no surprise to hear that a landlord doesn’t have to replace a carpet just because you ask them to because the carpet in a rental home is not to your taste or because the carpet clashes with your new furniture.
What some people are surprised to hear is that any damage to the carpet which is caused by a tenant, either directly or indirectly, becomes the responsibility of that person, and not the landlord.
So, if you walk in and out and around your home with muddy boots every day and the light brown carpet which was new when you moved in has become an unrecognizable mass of mud and dirt, you are the one who will be shelling out for new flooring, not the landlord.
The same goes for the situation where your dog has scratched a hole, you left the bath running and flooded the unit downstairs or any other tenant caused carpet mishap.
And if the damage has become dangerous?
Then the landlord must replace the carpet and either charge you directly for the cost of the carpet or subtract the cost from your security deposit.
What Can A Landlord Charge For A New Carpet?
Even when a tenant has caused damage which results in the need for a new carpet, the landlord cannot charge just any amount for the replacement.
First of all the new carpet must be of a comparable standard to the previous one. Not exactly the same, not the same price, but the same kind of standard. So if your fish tank breaks and ruins your rental home’s low-end carpet the landlord cannot suddenly decide to lay an overly expensive, luxury carpet and charge you for the entire thing.
Second, even when laying a similar standard of replacement carpet a landlord cannot charge the tenant the entire cost of the new carpet.
The reason why goes like this:
- Let’s assume the landlord has carpets that can be reasonably expected to last five years.
- A tenant ruins the carpet in year three and the landlord is forced to replace it two years early. Meaning the landlord has “lost” two years worth of carpet. This is 40% of the lifespan of the carpet.
- The carpet will cost $1,000 to replace but the landlord’s loss was only 40% of the carpet’s lifespan so the tenant can only be charged 40% of the cost, which in this case is $400.
When Landlords Cannot Charge For Carpet
Landlords cannot hold a tenant responsible for, nor can they charge tenants for carpets that have suffered “normal wear and tear.”
What Is Normal Wear And Tear?
Normal wear and tear can be defined as the deterioration that results from intended use and excludes any deterioration due to lack of care, abuse, or negligence. Again, HUD gives some guidance, this time in appendix C of the aforementioned document. Some examples they list include:
Normal Wear And Tear
- Fading, peeling, or cracked paint
- Slightly torn or faded wallpaper
- Small chips in the plaster
- Nail holes, pinholes, or cracks in the wall
- Door sticking from humidity
- Carpet faded or worn thin from walking
- Loose grouting and bathroom tiles
- Worn or scratched enamel in old bathtubs, sinks, or toilets
- Rusty shower rod
- Partially clogged sinks caused by aging pipes
- Dirty or faded lamp or window shades
Tenant Caused Damage
- Gaping holes in walls or plaster
- Drawings, crayon markings, or wallpaper that the owner did not approve
- Seriously damaged or ruined wallpaper
- Chipped or gouged wood floors
- Doors ripped off hinges
- Broken windows
- Missing fixtures
- Holes in the ceiling from removed fixtures
- Holes, stains, or burns in the carpet
- Missing or cracked bathroom tiles
- Chipped and broken enamel in bathtubs and sinks
Landlords can and do replace carpets, after all, it is in their best interests to keep their rentals in good condition. However, there are no specific timeframes for carpet replacement and landlords only HAVE to replace carpets in specific situations and if the problem with the carpet is down to the tenant then the tenant is the one responsible for its replacement.
About The Author
Geoff Southworth is the creator of RealEstateInfoGuide.com, the site that helps new homeowners, investors, and homeowners-to-be successfully navigate the complex world of property ownership. Geoff is a real estate investor of 8 years has had experience as a manager of a debt-free, private real estate equity fund, as well as a Registered Nurse in Emergency Trauma and Cardiac Cath Lab Care. As a result, he has developed a unique “people first, business second” approach to real estate.
This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.