Can our previous landlord charge us for carpet replacement when the the carpet was not new when we moved in?

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Can our previous landlord charge us for carpet replacement when the the carpet was not new when we moved in?

We lived at our previous residence for a year and upon moving into the apartment the carpet was wet and smelled like the previous tenant had a dog. We moved out a little over a month ago and not only did they charge us for carpet that wasn’t new in the first place, but they sent us straight to collections without giving us a chance to dispute or pay it. They didn’t even send us a description of the damages that they are saying were done to the carpet. It had normal wear. Can they do this?

Asked on May 3, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A landlord may charge tenants to replace carpet even if the carpet is not new, if the tenants caused damage to the carpet which exceeds normal wear and tear. If the only "damage" however is normal wear and tear, the tenants are not responsible for it.

If you dispute the damage, you can refuse to pay, wait until you are sued, then defend yourself in court, such as by providing testimony and evidence that you (or your family, guests, and pets) did not damage the carpet. Or you could affirmatively bring your own lawsuit, seeking a declaratory judgment, or court determination, that you do not owe the money. Or, depending on how much the landlord claims you owe, it's possible the most practical response is to either pay the claimed about or see if you can't negotiate something mutually acceptable.


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