Who Says the Carpet Needs Replacing?

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on August 10, 2009 under Landlord and Tenant FAQs, Landlord Tenant Lawsuits, Landlord Tips | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

Carpet photo on tenant screening blogLandlord vs. tenant issues seem to occur in the same general areas.  One item that landlords and tenants frequently clash over is flooring. Whether your rental unit floors are covered with carpeting, hardwood, or tile, you and your tenants will likely have issues with them at some point. We’ve put together some guidelines to help deal with damages or requests for replacement.

Determine the extent of the damage. Are you seeing normal wear and tear, minor damages, or major damages?

Normal means high-traffic areas are starting to show wear.

Minor damages include:

  • Carpet indentations
  • Minor scratches in wood floors
  • Color fading

Major damages include:

  • Stains
  • Burns
  • Carpet wrinkling
  • Deep scratches in wood
  • Gouges in laminate
  • Chipped or broken tiles
  • Carpet odors

Determine the cause of the damage. Keep in mind that some of the above issues may be a result of the quality of floor covering or the installation method—and may not be your tenants’ fault. Improper tile installation can lead to cracks. Poor quality carpet will wear quickly.  Obviously, pet stains and odors, burns, or food stains that were not present at move-in are the responsibility of your tenant.

Can the damage be repaired? Most flooring can be, so you might be able to avoid the cost of replacement. Contact a local flooring contractor or installer to provide an estimate for repair. You can require your tenant to take care of the bill if they are at fault.

How old is the flooring? Carpet and laminate will wear out. If you have 20-year-old carpet in a rental unit, then obviously, it should be replaced. And, low-quality, inexpensive carpet won’t last even five years under heavy use. The more people and animals walking on it, the quicker it will wear out! You’ll attract a higher-quality tenant with newer flooring.

So what’s the best flooring to avoid landlord and tenant issues? Unfortunately, there is no “best” flooring choice when it comes to rental units. Many landlords we hear from prefer hardwood, such as oak. It’s tough and lasts for hundreds of years with proper care. In older homes, hardwood can be painted to reduce upkeep and hide signs of wear.

If you want to install carpet, use your best judgment. Keep price and quality in line with the level of rent you are charging. Spell out your tenants’ responsibilities when it comes to caring for the floors, and thoroughly document the floor’s condition at move in and again at move out. That way, if damages occurred during the tenant’s stay, you have proof enough to deduct the amount from the security deposit—or to charge them more to cover the difference.

For more landlord resources, including forms and information on tenant screening, turn to E-Renter.com. You’ll know that you have the best possible tenants when you prescreen tenants.

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