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Estimating Tenant Damages - Carpet

October 14, 2015

 

Carpet damage by tenants is one of the most expensive repairs that a landlord must endure.  How much can a landlord charge a tenant for carpet damage?

 

We recently had a case where a 1500 s.f. condo had it's 10 year old carpet destroyed by neglectful tenants.  The tenants had resided in the property for only one year.  The carpet was a base grade carpet when new and had a realistic 7-8 year rental lifespan.

 

The landlord wants the maximum amount withheld from the tenants security deposit.  Here's how we determined the security deposit deduction.

 

The capet cost about $2,000 new.  It was now the 9 years old when the last tenant moves in.  The tenant destroys what is remaining of the carpet in one year.  We assume:

 

     The carpet depreciates about 10% per year or $200/ year, assuming normal wear and tear.

 

     At the start of the 9th year there is only $200 worth of value left in the carpet at move-in.

 

     The tenants destroy the $200 carpet but also do not perform any tasks required to maintain the

         carpet, i.e. shampoo or vacuum.

 

     Therefore the charges were $200 for destruction of the remaining carpet and $150 for

        not performing normal maintenance or not preserving the condition of the carpet.  A total of 

        $350 was deducted from the tenant's security deposit.

 

The landlord was not happy with the decision because the cost to replace the carpet was approximately $2,500.  However, the tenants did not destroy a $2,500 new carpet.  They destroyed a 10 year old rental carpet.

 

Ultimately, aside from fairness considerations, we must respond to landlord demands by examining how would these deductions be defensible in a court of law if the tenant chose to sue the landlord.  A judge would ask " What method was used to determine the value of the used carpet?" and

"What were the charges to the tenant based on this formula?"

 

The tenants did not move into a unit with brand new $2,500 carpet.  Because the replacement cost of the carpet cannot be charged to the tenant who lived on 10 year old carpet.

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