Can the landlord charge me for replacing the carpet if the damage from the previous tenant was beyond normal wear and tear?

When we moved into our apartment, the carpet had cigarette burns and smelled of cigarette smoke, although the lease said no smoking in the apartment. This damage was noted on our move-in damage check list. When we moved out, we had the carpets professionally shampooed, even though they were not excessively dirty. I turned in my keys after paying the carpet cleaners and did not see the resulting condition of the carpet (foolish, I know). My landlord charged my deposit for half the cost of carpeting a 15′ x 12′ space, which was listed as costing $500. Should he be able to do this?

Asked on July 17, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Maine


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Under the laws of all states in this country, if you damages the carpet at the rental you had, the most that the landlord could legally charge you in damages is the fair market value of the carpet on a depreciated basis, usually a seven year time period.

You should not be held responsible for paying for a brand new carpet when you never had the use of a brand new carpet nor damaged a brand new carpet.

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