How Much Can a Landlord Charge for Carpet Replacement?

Who is responsible for paying to replace old carpets in apartments? This article lays out the details of when landlords must replace carpets, whether the cost falls on the landlord or tenant, and how tenants can make sure they're experiencing fair treatment when addressing this issue.

Nichole Stohler
Last Updated
May 9, 2024
How Much Can a Landlord Charge for Carpet Replacement?

Carpets take a beating in rental properties, and determining who foots the bill for replacement is sometimes a delicate dance between landlords and tenants. Landlords want to maintain their property's value and attractiveness, while tenants want to avoid unfair charges.

This article provides a guide on the rights, responsibilities, and steps involved when carpets need replacing in a rental unit. We cover key factors that determine if a replacement is warranted, how to calculate charges fairly, and which specific clauses in lease agreements should outline carpet maintenance and replacements.

With a solid understanding of the ins and outs, you'll be best positioned to protect your interests while keeping tenants happy with their carpets.

Carpet damage vs. wear and tear

To determine who pays for new carpets in a rental, you must first distinguish between damage caused by tenant misuse or accidents and normal wear and tear from daily use over time. This difference will be the deciding factor in whether replacement costs fall on the tenant or the landlord:

  • Carpet damage: Resulting from improper use or accidents, this includes large stains, tears, burns, or significant soiling.
  • Wear and tear: This is the expected deterioration from daily use, such as slight fading, minor nicks, or thinning of the carpet fibers.

When a landlord should replace the carpet

Rental property owners have the responsibility of providing tenants with a safe and habitable living environment. Keeping your property well-maintained and up-to-date can also increase its marketability. Scenarios when you should replace the carpets include:

End of lifespan

Carpets typically have a lifespan of 5 to 10 years, depending on the quality and type of carpet installed. Landlords should consider replacing carpets that have reached or exceeded this lifespan. Beyond this timeframe, they'll likely show significant wear and no longer appear fresh or clean, even with professional cleaning.

Excessive wear and tear

Regular wear and tear happens in rental properties, but excessive wear and tear can lead to safety hazards. Examples of situations beyond reasonable wear include:

  • Large tears or holes that pose tripping hazards.
  • Pulled threads or loose carpet edges.
  • Heavy, deep-set staining or persistent odors.
  • Mold or mildew growth within the carpet fibers.

Upgrading property

If a rental property investor is looking to increase the rental value of a property, replacing an old or outdated carpet with a new one or a different type of flooring can make the property more attractive. This can help your apartment complex appeal to potential tenants and can justify a higher rental price.

After significant damage

There may be situations when carpet damage is not the tenant's fault, such as:

  • Plumbing failures or water leaks from building infrastructure impacting the entire apartment complex.
  • Damage from previous tenants that the landlord did not adequately address before the current tenant moved in.
  • Issues arising from building defects, like leaking roofs or windows.

Tenant requests and lease agreements

If a lease agreement specifies carpet replacement after a certain period or under certain conditions, landlords need to comply with these terms. Also, if a tenant requests a replacement due to issues affecting their use and enjoyment of the property, landlords should consider these requests to maintain positive landlord-tenant relationships.

The tenant's role in carpet maintenance

Tenants also contribute to maintaining the carpet, which can affect its longevity and the return of their security deposit. They should expect to handle the following when renting:

Regular cleaning

Tenants are responsible for regularly cleaning the carpet to prevent dirt build-up and stains, which includes vacuuming at least once a week.

Spills should be cleaned up immediately to prevent staining. Tenants should be sure to use appropriate cleaning methods and products recommended for carpet care to avoid damaging the fibers or causing discoloration.

Professional cleaning

Depending on the lease agreement, tenants may be required to professionally clean the carpets at regular intervals or at the end of their tenancy before they move out. Receipts or invoices can be used to prove that professional cleanings occurred.

Avoiding damage

Tenants should use protective pads under heavy furniture to avoid crushing the carpet fibers. Adding area rugs in high-traffic zones can also help reduce wear and tear. Tenants should also avoid activities that could damage the carpet, such as cutting crafts or indoor smoking. Those with pets should take extra care to protect the carpet from pet urine or other pet stains.

Reporting issues

If the carpet becomes damaged beyond what is normal wear or if there are issues like mold growth or subfloor problems, tenants should report this to their landlord promptly. Early reporting can prevent larger issues and shared responsibility for addressing the problem.

When should landlords charge tenants?

If you need to replace a carpet due to tenant damage beyond normal wear and tear, landlords can seek compensation for the replacement costs. This process typically involves deductions from the tenant's security deposit. Here's what landlords and tenants can expect:

Assess the damage

Both landlords and tenants benefit from documentation of the carpet's condition before the tenant moves in. The landlord or property manager should conduct an inspection, taking detailed photographs or videos to capture the carpeted areas. This initial documentation creates a baseline that aids in accurately assessing any damage that might occur during the tenancy.

Once the tenant has provided notice of their intent to vacate, the landlord should follow these steps:

  1. Schedule a follow-up inspection.
  2. Take another set of thorough photographs or videos to capture the current state of the carpets.
  3. Conduct the move-out inspection with the tenant present.

This process and documentation determine if carpet replacement is warranted and, if so, whether the entire carpet needs replacing or just certain areas.

Calculate the charge

Landlords cannot charge the tenant for the full replacement cost if the carpet had already been in use prior to the tenant's occupancy. To determine how much you should charge, look at:

  • Depreciated value: The charge must reflect the carpet's depreciated value, considering its age and expected lifespan. For example, if a tenant damages a carpet with an expected lifespan of 10 years after 5 years of use, they may only be responsible for 50% of the replacement cost. This framework also follows IRS guidelines, which consider carpets depreciating assets with a specific usable life.
  • Local laws: Local landlord-tenant laws may have specific regulations regarding carpet replacement charges. These could involve apportionment of costs between landlords and tenants based on the carpet's remaining useful life. Local laws may also provide guidelines on calculating depreciation and determining fair replacement charges.
  • Like-for-like replacement: The replacement cost should be for a like-for-like replacement. The new carpet should be of a similar quality and type as the one you are replacing. You can't include upgrades in materials in the tenant's charge.

Communicate with the tenant

The landlord must provide the tenant with a detailed written notice explaining the reasons for any deductions from the security deposit, including an itemized list of damages and the costs to repair them. For carpet damage, this disposition letter includes:

  • An itemized list of unusual damages.
  • The estimated entire cost for the new carpet.
  • Photographic evidence or other documentation supporting the carpet damage claims.
  • A detailed accounting of how the costs apply to the security deposit balance.

Deliver this notice within a specific timeframe dictated by state law, usually within 14 to 30 days after the tenant vacates the property.

Finalize the deduction

If the tenant disagrees with the assessment, they have the right to dispute the charges. It’s important for both parties to discuss the issue to try and reach an agreement. If you can't reach an agreement, the tenant can pursue legal channels for resolution, such as small claims court.

After deductions for damages, the landlord must refund any remaining amount of the security deposit to the tenant, along with any required documentation, within the legally specified period.

Tenants' rights around carpet replacement costs

While landlords are within their right to charge replacement costs when following appropriate protocol, tenants also have rights when it comes to questioning or disputing those charges. If you feel the carpet replacement charges presented by your landlord are excessive or unjustified, there are steps you can take to dispute them:

  1. Document everything: Take photos and videos of the carpet condition before moving out to counter the landlord's documentation. Keep receipts for any carpet cleaning services performed during your tenancy. Request a detailed invoice from the landlord itemizing all charges.
  2. Review local laws and your lease agreement: Familiarize yourself with your state's landlord-tenant laws regarding security deposit deductions and carpet replacements. Carefully review the carpet care clauses in your lease agreement for any violations by the landlord.
  3. Respond in writing: Submit a written letter disputing specified charges with evidence like photos and receipts. Request a return of the full security deposit amount you feel is unjustified. For disputes, follow any notice periods and processes outlined in your lease.
  4. Negotiate a settlement: Have an open discussion with the landlord about reaching a compromise on charges. Offer to pay a portion of the charges you agree were excessive tenant-caused damages.
  5. Pursue legal action: If negotiations fail, you may need to take the matter to small claims court. Be prepared to present your evidence and knowledge of landlord-tenant law. Potential outcomes could include the full return of your deposit or a split judgment.

Carpet care clauses in your lease agreement

Both landlords and tenants benefit from having clear and specific clauses in the lease agreement that address carpet care, damages, and replacement responsibilities. These clauses help set expectations and prevent disputes down the line. Common types of clauses about carpet replacement and care include:

Carpet cleaning requirements

This clause mandates professional deep cleaning of the carpets at regular intervals to maintain the carpet's condition throughout the tenancy. A cleaning clause may also require that the tenant provide proof of routine carpet cleaning by submitting paid receipts or invoices from a professional carpet cleaning service.

Many cleaning clauses require the tenant to have the carpets professionally steam-cleaned as part of the move-out cleaning when the lease ends.

Tenant carpet maintenance responsibilities

This lease clause outlines the tenant's obligations for regular carpet care between professional cleanings. It may specify that the tenant is responsible for keeping the carpets clean and free of stains, burns, and other damage beyond normal wear and tear.

A maintenance clause requires the tenant to vacuum all carpeted areas at least once per week to prevent dirt and debris buildup. It may also mandate that the tenant immediately clean up any spills or stains on the carpets using only approved, carpet-safe cleaning products when spot cleaning.

Landlords' right to inspections

Even if the rental agreement doesn't contain a dedicated clause outlining the tenant's carpet maintenance responsibilities, most standard leases include a clause allowing the landlord to conduct periodic inspections of the rental unit.

This general inspection clause grants the landlord the right to enter and examine the premises during the tenancy as long as they provide proper notice to the tenant beforehand.

In the absence of specific carpet care requirements, the landlord can rely on this inspection clause to monitor the condition of the carpets over time. Inspections allow the landlord to identify any potential issues like excess staining, dirt buildup, odors, or other signs that the tenant is not properly maintaining the carpeted areas.

Responsibility for replacement

A rental agreement should clarify who bears responsibility for carpet replacement costs. The lease may state that if carpets need replacing due to damage caused by the tenant beyond normal wear and tear, the tenant may have to pay for the new carpeting minus depreciation.

The clause may also outline how the landlord calculates replacement charges and if they deduct them from the tenant's security deposit.

How long does carpeting last?

Carpets in rental properties have a usable life of around 5 years due to wear and tear from tenant turnover. The biggest factors affecting a carpet's lifespan are:

Carpet quality

The better the quality of the carpet, the longer it will last. High-quality carpets are made from thick, strong fibers that can handle heavy foot traffic and everyday use without quickly getting worn down. 

Foot traffic

How much foot traffic the carpet gets makes a big difference in its lifespan. Carpets in busy, high-traffic areas like hallways, living rooms, and entrances are constantly walked on. All that foot traffic causes the fibers to get matted down, crushed, and discolored much faster. 

These high-traffic areas need the carpet replaced sooner than low-traffic rooms like bedrooms or home offices, which don't get used as much and have less wear and tear.


Taking proper care of your carpet is the key to making it last. Vacuuming regularly gets rid of dirt and debris that can grind down the fibers over time. Cleaning up spills and stains right away prevents staining and damage. 

Having a professional deep cleaning done once or twice a year really helps, too. It removes deep-down dirt and grime, reviving the carpet's fresh look and feel. Routine carpet cleaning can also extend the life of the carpets.

Can tenants replace the carpet in their rental on their own?

As a tenant, you generally cannot replace the carpet in your rental unit without your landlord's permission. The rental property belongs to the landlord, so making major changes like replacing the carpet could be seen as damaging the property, even if it's done with good intentions.

If you really want to replace the carpet at your own cost, you must first get written approval from your landlord to protect yourself from accusations of intentionally damaging the rental. Your landlord may also have specific requirements about the type of carpet, contractor, and installation process that you'll need to follow.

In most cases, it's not worth the hassle of replacing the carpet yourself, especially since you'll only be living there temporarily as a renter. A better option is to use area rugs or temporary floor coverings to improve the look of the existing carpet without making permanent changes to the rental unit.

The bottom line: Can apartments charge for carpet replacement?

Dealing with replacement charges doesn't have to leave landlords and tenants feeling like they're walking on eggshells. By following best practices like detailed documentation and open communication, both parties can approach this common rental situation in a fair and reasonable manner.

Landlords have a legitimate interest in maintaining their property's condition and value, while tenants deserve protection from excessive charges beyond normal wear and tear. The guidelines outlined allow for the proper assessment of carpet damage, calculation of appropriate replacement costs based on depreciation, and clear processes for tenants to dispute charges if needed.

Ultimately, a little foresight in drafting comprehensive lease clauses and a spirit of cooperation can go a long way toward mitigating conflicts over carpet replacements. Addressing carpet replacements transparently and following regulations helps resolve this issue equitably for all involved.

Landlord charge for carpet replacement FAQs

Do landlords have to replace carpets in Texas?

In Texas, a landlord does not have to legally replace carpet unless it is necessary to maintain the property in a habitable condition.

Can a landlord charge for carpet replacement in Florida?

Yes, in Florida, a landlord can charge a tenant for replacing the carpet if the damage exceeds normal wear and tear. The landlord must provide the tenant with documentation and receipts for the cost of replacement.

How often does a landlord have to replace the carpet in NC?

There is no specific law in North Carolina that mandates how often a landlord must replace carpets. Generally, carpet replacement is considered normal wear and tear, and landlords may replace carpets as needed to maintain the property in a habitable condition.

Important Note: This post is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be taken as legal, accounting, or tax advice, nor should it be used as a substitute for such services. Always consult your own legal, accounting, or tax counsel before taking any action based on this information.

Nichole Stohler

Nichole co-founded Gateway Private Equity Group, with a history of investments in single-family and multi-family properties, and now a specialization in hotel real estate investments. She is also the creator of, a blog dedicated to real estate investing.

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