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  1. #1
    pastelitadulce is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2008

    How Long Does a Landlord Have to Charge For Damages-Iowa

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Iowa

    On Tuesday, August 12th, 2008 I received an email from my previous landlord(the lease was up July 31st 2008) in regards to the condition of the townhouse I had previously lived in(I moved into this dwelling in March). There was some bowing of the wood laminate floors in certain areas in the living room and dining room. I dont know if this was due to me cleaning the floors from time to time or from they way it was installed. Anyway, he claims that the ENTIRE floor needs to be replaced which after consulting several carpenters and floor experts told me that is not necessarily true and that the said bowed pieces could be replaced and not the whole floor. In addition, the Landlord wants to replace the carpets and charge me for it. The carpets were in poor condition to begin with, but when I moved out I had them professionally cleaned. I have the feeling they want new carpet and want to charge me for it.

    Anyway, This letter stated that the floors needed replacing and carpets too. My deposit was $700 and he claims the fees for all of these repairs are about $3800!!!! He said he would give me two weeks to respond. I responded the day I got it asking for an itemized list of all that is needing to be done. I also pointed out that an entire floor does not need to be replace for a couple of bowed wood laminate pieces. I have heard nothing from him since.

    I am wondering how long he can keep me hanging on this. I mean, isnt there a limitation on how long he can keep this up. I would think it would be the same as the 30 days to return the deposit. Also, any advice on handling this situation would be much appreciated. I feel like I am being hustled, yet I think its odd that I have not heard from him. He has my phone number and my new address yet he emailed me(only time he has corresponded this way). I live in Iowa City, Iowa by the way.
    Thank you!!!!

  2. #2
    Gail in Georgia is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    A security deposit can be kept to cover damages above normal wear and tear and return the rental unit to same shape it was in before you rented it.

    Because you did not agree with your landlords assessment of what you owe in terms of damages, his/her next step may be to file against you in court. He is not likely to answer your request for a breakdown of costs, preferring to wait to present these to a judge. He is also not going to return any of your deposit.

    In court, the landlord would have to prove why they believe you owe this money. The judge can decide you don't owe anything, you owe a certain portion or you owe all.

    Wood laminate floors can bow out if they were initially placed too tight (i.e., were not given a small amount of space to expand and contract as the weather changes) or they can bow out if they become wet. Because they often "snap" together similar to a jig saw puzzle, portions can be replaced but it's often not an easy thing to do.

    Carpets are often a sticky issue between tenants and landlords. They will have a depreciation value (depending on their age) and at the most, you would only be responsible for a portion of the cost of replacing them (and if they are quite old, they may have outlived their life cost wise).


  3. #3
    OHlandlord is offline Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    southern OH
    A couple of quick things:

    You can replace only part of a laminate floor. However, since these snap together in only one direction, in order to replace a few boards you still have to dismantle the floor from the end section in. If the boards that need replaced are on the other end (those that were installed first) they will be spending almost as much time to replace just those pieces as they would to install a whole new floor. Only the cost of the floor boards will be different. Hours for labor will be nearly as high as a new one (less cutting the previous boards they can re-use). Laminate bows very quickly when exposed to water. These types of floors can't be mopped like tile. They can only be damp mopped to use these least moisture possible. Did you use a regular mop on them? Was there a plumbing leak? Were they installed too tightly? (They should have had some give when you walked on them.)

    Next the carpet. How long did you live there? How old were the carpets when you moved in? If the carpets were older than the period the LL uses for depreciation on his schedule E (normally 5-10 years) then there is no value left in the carpet to charge you for. If they still had some useful life left, as Gail said he can charge you a prorated amount if you ruined them. If there was only regular wear & tear, there should be no charge.

  4. #4
    FarmerJ is online now Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    If you ever used anything other than a swiffer type of cleaning pad on those floors like say a rag mop , the flooring got too wet and became damaged. I have seen this over and over in the group homes where I do maint. The homes managers often fail to keep swiffer style pad cleaners on hand , staff & clients end up using regular rag mops , floors were too wet over and over and were mildly damaged after 2 to 3 yrs and around 5 to 7 yrs were in need of replacement. This summer we have replaced 4 of 6 homes with laminate flooring already.

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