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Carpet and Deposit Woes (LONG, sorry!)

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state?What is the name of your state? California.

I need a little advice on a situation, not for a court fight, but just for my piece of mind.

My wife and I have lived in this rental house for the last nine years. When we moved in, we were charged one month's rent plus a pet deposit ($500.00 I believe) to cover our four cats.

Our relationship with the Landlord has been casual and relaxed. She has always received rent with no troubles. She never had a complaint if the rent showed up a day or two late. She always knew she'd get it. She would always handled the big problems (water heater, etc.) within a day or two of our calling. However, since she lived an hour and a half away, I tried to fix as many small problems as I could. All in all, it was a decent relationship.

This year, my wife and I finally purchased a home. Once everything had been nailed down on our purchase, we gave our 30-day notice at the rental house. On July 15, she received her written notice that we would be out of the house on August 15 (Our rent was always due in the middle of the month). With the notice, we included our final rent check.

Our landlord called us a week later to discuss a walk through and the possibility of showing the place. We informed her that it would be somewhat messy during our move. She agreed and told me to call her when we were out to arrange the walk through. As promised, we were out by the 15th (but not before investing in a $320.00 house cleaning). A walk through was scheduled for the 20th.

During the inspection, she noticed many little fix-it items. However, her only real concerns were the carpets. They were stained by our cats (and other smaller accidents over the years) To see if the damage went through to the wood floors beneath, we pulled up the carpet in several stained areas of the master bedroom. The padding appeared to absorb the stains in all of the areas. Everything appeared rosy.

Happily, she told us she'd check under the other carpets later. That was her only concern. Everything else was minor. We naively figured that would be it, shook hands, said goodbye, and left the house. No pictures were taken (I know..STUPID!) As we left, prospective tenants were filing in to check out the place.

A few hours later, we received an ANGRY e-mail from our landlord. Apparently, many of the interested parties left once they got a look at, and a whiff of, the pet stains. Suddenly, all of the minor concerns were major, especially the carpet. She demanded that we come back and pull up and dispose of all the carpet ourselves.

We sent a reply addressing all of the "minor" issues one by one. When it came to the carpet (which I believe was the one true concern she had. All of the other charges seemed trumped up) we hit an impasse. Knowing that she would never budge from her position without going to court, and seeing as how we didn't snap photos, we just told her to deduct removal costs from our deposit. Basically, we're too busy to go back and do free work for her. Since a long fight was in no one's interests, we thought this was the best course of action.

Unfortunately this is a problem as well. She claims no one wants to handle the job. The cat urine is a big problem. Now, since we won't just take care of the problem ourselves, she wants us to track someone down for her. We just want this problem to end which is why we made the offer of deducting from our deposit. Instead she is complaining about the "hardship" of getting quotes for the work and bugging us about taking care of it ourselves.

Sorry for the long preamble. I have just been perusing the forums, and I wanted to make sure I answered many of the questions I saw being asked elsewhere. Now, onto my question.

Her position is that we need to be responsible for the carpets since our cats stained them. Granted. Our position is that the usefull life was already close to, if not actually over. We had been there for nine years. She told us that the newest carpeting in the living room had been put in before the last tenant moved in. That was at least one year prior to us. So we are looking at 10 + year old carpets. With California law is there a time limit on carpets? I have been scanning the web and information, even from State sites, is confusing at best. She claims that she is insistent on us doing the work because it would be cheaper for us in the end as opposed to getting a professional. (She's doing us a favor) My question is why should we do it if depreciation requires that she replace the carpet anyway?

Since we already offered up the deposit this point is probably moot. However, for curiousity sake, can some of you knowledgable folks tell us, based on the above info, if we had a leg to stand on here?

Many thanks!


Senior Member
She would not have to pull up the carpet if there were no cat urine stains and odors.

You have not stated that she wants you to pay for new carpeting, only that she wants the smelly stained rug pulled up. Depreciated value would come into play if she was charging you for new carpeting. You would be liable for the actual labor cost to pull up the carpet.

Honestly, you have no obligation to return, pull up and dispose of the carpet. It is now her responsibility to have it done, at your expense.


Because the carpet is old doesn't mean that you're not responsible for damage done to it by your pets.

Interesting that the landlord seemed more concerned about the leakage going through carpet and pad than she was about the smell that she says drove prospective tenants away. Why would she try to rent the place anyway if it had a smelly, stained carpet?


Junior Member
Thanks for the advice on this matter folks.

I never had a problem with her having grievances. It was simply the way in which she presented them that rubbed us the wrong way.

Our last landlord also had the stain concerns with our carpet. However, he saw that we had rented for more than six years and told us that he'd have to replace the carpet anyway. He refunded the deposit. Now, he was REPLACING the carpet. So, maybe that was the difference.

I was just curious as to whether or not there were actual rules concerning the life of carpets. The California Dept. of Consumer Affairs website has a small section on the "useful life" rule. I couldn't tell if these rules applied to us. That's why I was asking around here. This is the site address:


About the middle of the page there is a section on "Suggested Approaches to Security Deposit Deductions". Item #2 deals with the carpets. They state that yes, carpet damage is the tenant's responsibility. However, the carpet's age versus the length of the tenancy figures into what the tenant should really pay. However, they are talking about replacement. She hasn't confirmed whether she is going to replace the carpet.

As to why she would show the place before it was clean is anyone's guess. I guess she thought she was going to be able to put someone in there right away. If it was me, I would have dealt with the repairs first.

We have a call in to her regarding this situation. We are still just saying that she should just deduct the removal costs from our deposit and be done with it. She still wants us to be more directly involved. Now, we have to find a removal service for her (apparently none of her contacts will handle the cat urine)

I will post again with the solution.


Nine year old carpet would have to be removed or replaced even if there were no cat urine stains. Even if the carpet was high quality, 9 years of wear and tear would depreciate that carpet to 0 value.

The landlord is being unreasonable demanding that you remove the damaged carpeting.


Junior Member
Okay, so after all of your informative responses (for which I thank you again) this is how it finally fell out.

A couple of days ago, we received three seperate e-mails from the landlord during that day. The first one asked us for our opinion (again) on what would be a fair settlement. The second indicated a stronger desire for a settlement. She didn't want to go through the whole process of digging up our files and checking that we paid our rent on time for the last nine years (what that has to do with carpet fixing, I don't know) She wanted to check under the carpets for damage but was prevented from doing so by an injury. She indicated once more that fixing said damage would result in more deposit being held back. She also made the veiled threat of legal action to compensate her for lost rent due to the carpet not being fixed, and the damage to the bathroom. (This was one of the other minor concerns. A tile was broken in the shower and the walls needed repainting. Now, it is a major concern..and a bargaining chip) She said she didn't want to resort to this.

Then we get the third e-mail.She did manage to find our file. Seeing what we put down for the deposit (one months rent $1150 plus, as I recall, a $500.00 cat deposit) she offered a settlement of $1000.00 if we walked away right now. As we were "trustworthy people" she would forego the checking of our payment records and cut us a check. This was quite a turn around from days earlier, when she wasn't willing to part with a penny.

We have agreed to this. Frankly, we just want an end to the situation. I don't mind helping with the carpet repairs so long as it is fair. Just out of curiousity though, why do you folks think there was a turn around. In all of our previous correspondence she wanted us to name the price, and was miffed when we dodged the question. She also didn't have our original paperwork on hand. Now, she has the documents, and she is willing to return two thirds of our money. Does it have to do with the "cat deposit"?

More importantly, when we agreed to the setlement, we asked for a document stating that we were released from any further financial obligation. Instead she proposed she would write the terms on the back of the refund check. Our signature (and hers on the front) would indicate acceptance of the contract. We would also have all of her correspondence to back it up. Is this kosher? Seems a little squirrelly to me.

Again, I am not looking to get back all the money at this point. I consider the matter done. I am just curious.

Thanks again for all the advice.

Just Blue

Senior Member
Your landlord is intitled to damages that you did to her property, but from what you discribe in your post, other than the cat pee, it is normal w+t. I would think that your 500.00 cat deposit would be enough to cover the removal of the carpet. The replacement she would have to do anyway (10 year old carpet).It is not your job to find a carpet company for her...its her property she can do it her self.


Pet deposits are ususally not refundable. The settlement amount sounds pretty reasonable. But make sure you make a copy of that note she puts on the back of that check, just in case.

Her tune may have changed when she checked your file and saw how long you had been in that apartment. Or maybe someone advised her that she couldn't charge you for all that wear and tear.

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