Q Dear, Dennis. My daughter rented a two-bedroom apartment for two years. It was offered as a one-bedroom with the unused room locked off. She moved out in July. She is being charged to replace the entire carpet, at a cost of $750. To quote, it is "within company standards to charge for a room to which she had no access."
What?! Aside from the fact that her deposit was $400, and they demanded an additional $400 security deposit for her cat, plus $30 per month "pet rent," they are gouging her for a carpet one could replace for $500. I know; I checked with local companies.
A A tenant is only responsible for returning a rental unit to the same condition that it was when it was rented, said Martin Eichner of Project Sentinel (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
"Obviously, if this tenant never used the second bedroom, then by definition that room was returned to the landlord in the same condition," Eichner emailed me. "Also, a tenant is only responsible for replacing any part of the carpet if her activities caused the damage requiring replacement. These are the rules that apply and the fact that 'company standards' may be different is irrelevant. The only exception that might apply to allow replacement of the entire carpet would be if the carpet was such a unitary, indivisible type of carpet that could only be repaired by replacing the entire piece.
"Even if the tenant did damage the carpet, she would be entitled to credit for 'normal wear and tear' for any of the carpet replacement. She lived there two years and is entitled to credit for that time against the full useful life of the carpet. If the carpet was a five-year carpet of the type often used in rental properties, she is only liable for 3/5 of the replacement cost, because she gets credit for 2 [years]/5 [years] of the useful life.
"Our agency provides tenant-landlord counseling to Cupertino tenants, so this writer is welcome to follow up with our agency for a more in-depth analysis."