I provide carpet cleaning in the Portland area and homeowners represent most of my customer base. However, I occasionally provide carpet cleaning for renters. The other day I cleaned carpet for a friend getting ready to rent his house. He had questions about carpets in a rental unit. What were his responsibilities concerning carpet? What were the responsibilities of the renter? Who keeps it clean? Who replaces the carpet if it wears out or gets damaged?

I guess here’s where I say, “I’m not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV.” You can find several references to renters rights Online. Landlordassociation.org gives landlord laws state by state. Check your state’s laws. As a landlord use a contract standard for your state. Know what it says concerning upkeep of your rental. As a renter read your contract before moving into a unit. Know your responsibilities, and know what is required of your landlord. Carpet unlike paint represents a substantial outlay of money and has the potential for some nasty interactions between parties. Both sides should talk about carpet in the rental and get agreements in writing.

There are three situations to keep in mind in a rental situation with carpet:

Wear and tear—Most rental agreements allow for normal wear and tear to carpet. Carpets wear out over time. The landlord can not rent a unit with a worn carpet and expect the renter to replace it after a year of living there. Renovation, redecoration, or replacement costs fall on the landlord. They own the property and are making profits or building equity in that property on the backs of the renter. If one moves into a unit needing carpet replacement, the parties need to come to an agreement in writing about replacement, replacement costs, and logistics surrounding a carpet installment. The wise course of action would dictate that one not move into a rental needing carpet replacement in the first place.

Damage—One can not expect the landlord to pay for damages caused by the negligence of a renter. If you damage a carpet you need to fix it at your cost. That can involve a host of things like carpet repair cutting out a section of damaged carpet and sewing in new piece, repairing a snag or replacing whole sections of carpet damaged by water, fire, pets, or chemicals.

Cleaning—Most landlords require a “cleaning deposit” from their renters. The cleaning deposit should go to cleaning. It is after all called a “cleaning deposit.” Reputable landlords will return the cleaning deposit if the renter leaves the property as clean as they found it. Otherwise, they have the right to charge the renter monies to hire someone to come in and clean. Carpet cleaning can represent a substantial portion of a cleaning deposit. It makes financial sense for the renter to clean the carpet themselves before leaving. Generally speaking you can do it yourself with a rent-all machine from the grocery store. Tougher cases involving stains or pet odor removal may require a professional cleaning. Shop for a good deal.

Disreputable landlords will dream reasons to take part or all of the deposit with the intention of using it to make upgrades to the property. They will often use normal wear and tear items like carpet as leverage to take your deposit. They already have your money which makes it difficult to fight. Make a thorough inventory of damages or wear on carpet prior to moving in. Take pictures.

Hope this information is helpful. Until next time…Sean!