What can my landlord charge me for regarding pet stains on the carpet?

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What can my landlord charge me for regarding pet stains on the carpet?

We had a puppy in our old apartment that we had to potty train. Twice I shampooed the entire carpet. Right before we moved out, the puppy made 4 small piddles right by her puppy pad. The landlord told me not to clean the carpet because they were going to charge me to clean the carpet anyway. Before cleaning the carpet, they did a “black light” test and saw the 4 pee stains. If they had shampooed prior to the test they would have permanently removed the pee, according to the Rug Doctor. The carpet was already used and stained when we moved in. She says we pay for 40% plus sealer, totaling $400.

Asked on September 14, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There are two different issues here:

1) Legally, if a tenant, or a tenant's family, guests, pets, etc., destroy carpet, even old carpet, the tenant can charged the reasonable cost of replacing it (or other major repair/cleaning). Pet urine on carpets wold, by most landlords, be considered grounds for replacement, etc. if it could not come out.

2) Factually, the issue is whether or not simply shampooing would have been an acceptable and reasonable alternative--though note: if they tried to shampoo and failed, then had to replace, you might have been responsible for the cleaning cost plus the later replacment.

If you dispute the factual basis--i.e. that had to do what they did--you can challenge it, but be aware that may involve litigations, or going to court. You have to weigh whether the time, aggravation, and cost is worth it, compared to the $400, and when (i) you'd almost certainly have to pay some cost (even if only for a good shampooing) and (ii) you acknowledge your puppy made the mess, which means you were at fault.


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