Can a landlord charge to replace the carpet when you move out because of a slight pet odor?

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Can a landlord charge to replace the carpet when you move out because of a slight pet odor?

We recently moved out of an apartment in the south east Wisconsin area. We
were told we needed to get the carpets professionally cleaned and de fleaed
since we have a dog, or pay them to do it. We chose to pay them. They then
charged us 1,000 to replace the carpets because of a slight pet odor, after
they allegedly cleaned the carpeting. Are they allowed to do that, are we
responsible for paying to have the carpet replaced?

Asked on August 15, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If there was a pet odor, even a "slight" one, then the pet-owning tenants can be required to pay for their replacement, if the odor was not eliminated by cleaning: a persistent, not readily removable pet odor is damage to the carpet (it renders the carpet unusable; a non-pet owning tenant will not accept a unit with pet odor) and damage allows the landlord to charge the tenant. If you believe the landlord is lying about the odor, you can refuse to pay; of course, if the landlord sues you for the money, unless you personally inspected the "cleaned carpet" after cleaning and perceived no odor, and can honestly and credibly testify that there was no odor, you would most likely lose the lawsuit, since you will lack evidence for your position.


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