If a tenant ruined the carpet in our rental, what can we do?

UPDATED: Jun 16, 2015

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If a tenant ruined the carpet in our rental, what can we do?

We have a rental home that is 7 years old and o the tenant lived in the property for 6 years. The carpet was less than a year old when she moved in. Upon moving out we noticed the carpet had been removed in spots and replaced with a different carpet due to the tenant spilling bleach (per her explanation). Do we have the right to charge the for damage as well as extensive staining in other rooms of the house?

Asked on June 16, 2015 under Real Estate Law, South Carolina


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

A landlord cannot charge a tenant damages for normal wear and tear. A slightly worn carpet or a carpet that can be cleaned professionally is not considered “damaged.”

However, if a tenant has torn, permanently stained, etc. the carpet and it has to be repaired, the landlord can charge for the such costs. If the carpet cannot be repaired, the tenant can then be charged for the prorated replacement cost of the carpet.

As a general rule, courts set the life span of a carpet at 10 years. Therefore, the carpet would have to be depreciated by the number of years it has been in service to determine charges. So, for example and as in your case, if the carpet was 1 year old when the tenant moved in 6 years ago (for a total of 7 years) and there are permanent stains and missing carpet, you could charge the tenant for the remaining life of the carpet, which would be 3 years. To determine the amount to charge, you would take the value of the carpet when it was installed and divide that amount 10. This gives you the annual depreciation cost of the carpet. Then you would multiply the annual depreciation cost by 3 years to find the total amount to charge the tenant.

However, your rights/remedies can vary based on the jurisdiction that you are in. At his point, you can google for more state specific information or consult directly with an attoreny who specializes in landlord-tenant cases.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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