Estimating Tenant Damages - Carpet
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.