Apartment Rental Carpet Replacement

Can Tenants Expect New Carpet When Moving In?

Some landlords will replace carpet in their rental units between all tenants. In my personal renting experience, carpet was replaced between tenants when I lived in apartment complexes. The owners would buy thin, affordable carpet in bulk to use in all of the units.

When I have rented duplexes or houses, the carpet was only replaced if it really needed to be. Based on this personal experience, I suspect it may be more likely that you’ll get new carpet if moving into an apartment complex.

However, I don’t think you should assume you’ll get new carpet when moving into an apartment. Tenants should assume that any carpet they see when touring a unit will be the carpet that is still there when they move in. If you tour an apartment and the carpet isn’t up to your standards, you should ask if they will be replacing it before accepting a new tenant. Unless they let you know they will replace the carpet before you move in, you should assume they won’t be replacing it.

Also, if you’re seeing this when you’re at the moving-in stage, take pictures of the carpet (and the whole apartment) to document the condition of everything before you moved in. This is a good idea regardless of the condition of the carpet or anything else in the apartment currently.

The carpet in a closet of my current rental was in particularly rough shape, so I made sure to specifically photograph that area when we moved in. I did this in addition to taking pictures of the carpet in the other rooms. I like to do photos for any areas that show extra wear or damage when we move in to ensure we have evidence that we didn’t cause the damage if the issue is noticed after we move out. 

Can Tenants Replace Their Carpet On Their Own?

Most landlords don’t expect tenants to do remodel work like carpet replacement. However, some landlords may be happy to let you replace the carpet on your own as long as you’ll leave the carpet there when you move out. If you’d like to replace the carpet in your rental, talk to your landlord about it and get permission.

Can Tenants Require The Landlord To Replace Ruined Carpet?

If the carpet becomes unsafe while you’re living in a unit, you can expect the landlord to replace the carpet. Generally, landlords are expected to provide a safe living space. As one example, if a carpet were to become moldy that may be deemed unsafe and then you could expect the landlord to replace the carpet.

In cases of stains, rips or tears, etc, replacing the carpet while you’re still living there are usually up to the landlord’s discretion.

Alternatives To Replacing Carpet While You’re Renting

If you’re unhappy with the look or feel of your carpet while renting, you may consider other options such as:

Covering the carpet with a large area rug

Using your carpet shampooer (or renting one) to deep clean the carpet to try to remove any stains or smells.

Can Landlords Charge Tenants For Damaged Carpet?

In most cases, carpet is considered to be part of the rental unit. When a tenant moves in, they should be provided with paperwork where they can note any existing problems or damage that exist in the unit. If the carpet is noted as being undamaged on move-in, but is damaged when the tenant moves out, the landlord usually can keep part of the apartment deposit money to use to replace the carpet. This is if the damage is out of the normal wear and tear of regular use. If the damage is considered to be usual wear and tear, then the tenant should not be charged.

To give a specific example. If a unit has brand new, fluffy carpet when a tenant moves in, and the carpet is a bit “worn down” in areas with a lot of foot traffic, the landlord shouldn’t charge the tenant for that. A landlord can’t expect the carpet to still be in “brand new” shape after tenants have lived there for a period of time.

However, if a tenant has pets that have accidents all over the carpet and leave stains and stench, requiring the carpet to be replaced before a new tenant would be interested in the unit, the tenant would usually be considered to be financially responsible for that damage.

In most cases, the rule of thumb is “normal wear and tear” is expected and the responsibility of the landlord, while atypical damage or excessive damage is the responsibility of the tenant. In many cases, the difference between “normal wear and tear” and “excessive damage” is not well defined.

I take multiple pictures like this of every room when we first get keys to a new apartment or rental house. The goal is to document the condition of the place before we move in. 

How Much Can Landlords Charge Tenants For Replacing Carpet?

If a tenant is responsible for excessive damage to a carpet, they should only charge the tenant for the cost to replace the carpet with an exact or near-exact replacement. If a landlord wants to upgrade to a higher quality carpet, they can’t charge the tenant for the extra cost.

The exact rules can vary by state, and may vary if your lease had specific language included about their policy for carpet replacement. However, in most areas in the US, landlords are expected to consider the age of the carpet they are replacing. If the carpet was not new when the tenants moved in, the tenants won’t be charged the full price of the replacement carpet.

Landlords can’t charge as much to replace a 5-year-old carpet as they could charge the tenant if they had to replace just a 1-year-old carpet, because the value of the 5-year-old carpet had depreciated some before the tenant moved in.

If a tenant leaves a carpet stained, the landlord may withhold part of the deposit to pay for professional carpet cleaning to remove the stain rather than replace the carpet.

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