Inquiry About Moving and Damages to Carpet Regarding Security Deposit

Updated on January 11, 2011
A.P. asks from San Antonio, TX
13 answers

I recall several years ago that if a tenant lived in a rental for a minimum of three or more years (may have the year amount wrong), then no matter the damages to the carpet, the landlord could not deduct from the security deposit because it is reasonable to expect the landlord to replace the carpet automatically within so many years.

Is this correct or similar to an existing tenant's rights? If so, can you please provide me with a link from a reputable source or at least verification of what I did or did not have right.

I have been at my current place for 5 years. The main carpet, thanks to three kids, has various stains that I have attempted to clean up. The floor has also had major wear and tear in major traffic areas, which is also where stains are present, including a 2x1 inch hole from traffic. There are three small areas where a previous cat got stuck in the room and tore up a corner (one is 2x2 inches, one is 3x4 inches, and the last is the largest, approximately 12 x 2 inches). I am moving by the end of the month and I wanted to see what the landlord was allowed to deduct, if anything. She does get to keep a 250 non-refundable deposit for pets.


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answers from Oklahoma City on

You can call and ask a realtor, or an attorney that deals in real estate. Each state is going to have different laws.

A friend of mine works for a guy who owns a lot of rental property in OKC and he charges for everything, even painting after years of the same tenant living there. She goes in and deep cleans the apartments and repaints them. She gets paid by the apartment and makes a good living. The landlord charges for every little thing my friend finds.

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answers from Modesto on

At my apartment complex we use 7 years for carpet. If your carpet was brand new when you moved in 5 years ago and you have destroyed it by not taking preventitive measures to keep it in good condition, you will be charged the prorated amount to have the carpet replaced. If it cost 2,000 for the new carpet you divide that by 84 months (7 yrs). You have 24 months left that the carpet should be good for (since you have been there 5 years and not 7). If it has to be replaced now I would charge the tenant for the remaining 24 months 23.80 x 24 months = 571.00.
Ask them to prove to you that the carpet was new at move in. And ask them how many years they expect a carpet to last. Like I said, here at my place it is 7 years.
Just remember as a renter it is your responsibility to take care of the rented unit, especially if you want your deposit back. Our tenants clean and scrub to get their money back, it's only fair people.
If you are going to rent your next place this might be a good time to practice what was said in some earlier posts, take your shoes off at the front door, this really saves on carpet.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

No legal advice, but it seems carpet should last more than 5 years. Was the carpet new when you got there? If the carpet was new, it seems the owner is entitled to what is expected for 5 year old carpet. It seems the animal deposit was the deposit intended to cover animal incidentals. However, it does sound like you describe a lot of damage.



answers from Boston on

I'm not sure because I would understand not charging for normal wear and tear but this does not seem to be normal wear and tear. I would understand some light wear and tear from traffic but my parents had carpet in the living room for 10 years before it was replaced and there were no tears, holes, or stains. I would not be surprised if you lose your security or are charged to replace it.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I've never heard of that rule either. Normal wear an tear is exempt, but this does sound like damage that occurred while you lived there so don't be surprised if they keep a portion or all of it.



answers from Santa Barbara on

Hi A.- I'm sorry, I don't have a link to Texas laws but I always thought it was OK for "normal wear and tear". The kitty damage certainly doesn't fall under that. Maybe you can rent a steam cleaner at the market to take care of the will make the world of difference if you don't clean your carpets (I own a Hoover and they are really easy to operate). My guess is you will be responsible for some of it.



answers from Oklahoma City on

You can call and ask a realtor, or an attorney that deals in real estate. Each state is going to have different laws.

A friend of mine works for a guy who owns a lot of rental property in OKC and he charges for everything, even painting after years of the same tenant living there. She goes in and deep cleans the apartments and repaints them. She gets paid by the apartment and makes a good living. The landlord charges for every little thing my friend finds.



answers from Houston on

It is one of those hit and miss sort of things. If you are living in a big complex, they often put in the cheapest carpet and pad; not something that you would expect to hold up for too many years. Landlords know a couple of things 1) that people move in and out all the time regardless of the status of their lease and 2) people don't take as good of things that they don't own (not saying that is the case here).

I'm actually surprised that it hasn't been replaced already. I always negotiated that into the renewal of my lease after 3-5 years...depending on if it was new when I moved in.

If you really need to get your deposit back, your best bet is to hire someone to steam clean aren't going to get good enough results with a rental machine. However, you have to be prepared that you may not get your deposit back anyway. They aren't going to "patch" the torn up least not going to tell you that anyway.

If you feel like doing some reading, you can always check the Texas Property Code.


answers from Rochester on

For flooring, from what I have read, you are responsible for anything beyond normal wear and tear. Unfortunately, unless you know the carpet and its history, you may not be able to make a case for yourself. For example, if the carpet has an expected "life" of 10 years of normal wear, you move in when the carpet is 6 years old, when you move out 5 years later it needs to be replaced, that is replacing a 10 year carpet after 11 years, and totally normal. If you move out after 3 years and he is replacing a 10 year carpet after 9 years, you should only be charged the equivalent of the loss of that one year's worth of carpet (so a fraction of the replacement cost, not the entire cost). If you look up information with your local housing authorities or county and search for rental information you should be able to find everything you want to know, but it can be hard to get solid legal help with rentals.

If you took pictures when you moved in of the apartment condition, find those and keep them handy, or your checklist for the condition. When you leave and clean, take pictures and detailed notes of the condition you are leaving for your own reference to use to explain or make a case in case you get any charges you don't agree with.

My landlord recently re-rented one of his duplexes and was talking to me about when new tenants would move in but said he had some work over there repainting, replacing carpet, and putting in new linoleum, since it hadn't been done in quite a few years and had had a few tenants. He brought me some paint when I asked him (sheepishly) if he had any extra wall paint to touch-up with and pointed out that we had been living here for three years and there was going to be wear on the apartment (made me feel better).



answers from Tulsa on

"The landlord may not charge you for normal wear and tear on the premises and may only charge for actual abnormal damage. For example, if the carpet simply becomes more worn because you and your guests walked on it for a year, the landlord may not charge you for a new carpet. If your water bed leaks and the carpet becomes mildewed as a result, you may be charged." I would think he can charge for stains, cleaning them, or replacing with a similar price/quality of carpet. and the Texas Attorney General's webiste.


answers from San Antonio on

It ALL depends on your apartment manager or assistant manager. They are the ones that walk the apartment at move out and do the move out charges. When I was a manager I took 5 yrs of living on apartment carpet as getting your money's worth out of it and totally expected to have to replace it before the next tenant moved in. They could be sticklers about the cat damage, but once again it depends on the people doing the move out charges.
Your best bet is to speak with the management team and do a walk through prior to move out. They will tell you what they look for and what they charge. If someone moved out and left the apartment trashed no matter how long they had lived in it, I charged for as much as I could, If they left it clean then I was much more considerate and was not as picky.
Good luck!!


answers from Spokane on

This is a mucky one. Because of the damages you are describing, I wouldn't be at all surprised if you're charged for replacement and the landlord has the complete right to do it. I would certainly check local laws & stuff but don't be surprised if you have to pay at least damages & cleaning if not replacement.

Recently, we moved out of a place we'd been in for 3 years. My kids were really hard on the carpeting but it certainly was not new when we moved it. It may even be the original carpeting from when the place was built in the late 90's. We lived in student family housing and when we moved in there was huge stains, some runs and even some buckling in areas. When we moved out we were billed for $1500 for damages, painting, etc. Three months later we were billed for a total carpet replacement (3 bedroom unit) for $3K. We contested them about it saying it was past the 30 day limit the landlord has to return the deposit or post damages. However that law only pertains to the landlord returning your deposit and squaring up any minor repairs. We were told that in our state, the landlord can come after you up to 5 years after the fact (maybe longer?). My husband fought it and insisted on taking it to the U's law school to ask them; he thought it was something the U had in their charter but it was actually state wide. My husband works at the law school so we were able to get free legal advice on this, which really helped but it was still a huge mess. We thought that because it had been so long and so many people using that carpet we shouldn't be liable for it either the lawyers told us no on that one too. :( At least the U was nice enough though to drop installation charges and we only paid $1700 in the end.

Good luck. I know how it is with children & pets. Some people have children & pets that just don't make messes. Other families a child just has to look at a room and it's as if a whirlwind passed through. I vacuum at least once a day and I completely clean my carpets every 2 months. And I still had to replace them. I hate carpeting!



answers from Minneapolis on

I have rented for 9 yrs now and have never heard of this rule. Never are you expected to pay for "normal" wear and tear, but what you are describing is not normal wear and tear, as a tenant if you live in a house for that many years you are expected to have the carpets cleaned and maintained, that is "normal" for a home if you did not do that, that is more then likely why the front is in such bad shape the cat's carpet mess is not normal wear and tear, they can at will charge you to replace the carpet in the areas needed. They however cannot say something like "well we need to replace the carpet in the livingroom and I want it to match the bedrooms so you are responsible for all the rooms..." if you destroyed the living room carpet that is all they can charge you for, if they choose to do the bedrooms also the cost of the bedrooms is there responsibility. Also they cannot go out and get carpet that is more valuable then what you destroyed and make you pay for that, they would have to pay the difference.

Renters are responsible for upkeep in the home and that is pretty standard as far as things like this, even the diswasher have you ever cleaned that if you have one or the stove, ever clean that...those are all your responsibility. Landlord is responsible if broken but not to keep clean. Cleaning is your responsibility. If you choose not to clean or maintain then you pay the $$

I have never seen a lease that doesn't have a section about maintaining the property.



answers from Redding on

Is there any way you can repair some of the damages so they are less noticeable? The more you can do to make the place easily rentable for the next tenant helps.
As far as damages, I don't think there's any specific timeline. I mean, if you put cigarette burns in the carpet or spill paint that won't come out, no matter how long you've lived in a place, that is not considered "normal wear and tear".
Can she rent the place with the carpet the way it is considering it's cleaned? Does the carpet need to be replaced?
With my very first apartment, my landlord tried to keep my security deposit claiming that the carpets had to be replaced due to carpet damage. She was referencing a spot that was where the roller on my bed had made the carpet "fuzzy" from me moving the bed to clean under it and make it. Had I been smarter about it, I could have taken scissors and trimmed the "fuzzy" part and she would have never noticed. I'd lived there for over 4 years and that was the only complaint. My place was immaculate. She lost.
So, there is normal wear and tear and then there is down right damage.
Landlords will always try to keep your deposit if they can. I would try to make the place look as close as to when you moved in as possible and know that if there are things that need to be replaced, you might not get your deposit back. Expect the worst and hope for the best.

Best wishes.

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