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After occupying a unit for fourteen years, can I legally be charged for replacing the carpet, which was not new when I moved in?

Tacoma, WA |

I do have my original lease and walk through

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Attorney answers 3


If the carpet needs replacement due to ordinary wear and tear (which seems likely if the carpet was not new when you moved in and you lived there for 14 years), you should not be charged for replacing it. Ordinary wear and tear means gradual deterioration resulting from use, lapse of time, and to a certain extent the operation of the elements. If the carpet is just worn out due to age and ordinary use, you should not have to pay for its replacement. However, if you damaged the carpet beyond ordinary wear and tear (such as by staining, tearing, or ripping up the carpet) that requires it to be replaced, you could be charged for replacement. If the carpet is just old and worn out, take pictures before you move out; you may need them as evidence later if the landlord wrongly tries to charge you for replacing the carpet.


The general rule is that you will not be charged upon move out for ordinary wear and tear. If the condition of the carpet can be attributed to ordinary wear and tear, then you should not be charged for it unless your lease states that you will be charged for ordinary wear and tear. You can, however, be charged for damage to the carpet that goes beyond ordinary wear and tear. For example, significant stains, burn marks or tears could be determined to exceed the scope of "ordinary wear and tear." So, if these types of incidents have occurred during the course of your occupancy, the landlord could be in a rightful position to charge you for the carpet replacement.*

*This answer is not intended as legal advice but merely general legal information. This answer is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship, and no such relationship has been formed as a result of this communication.


The chances a judge is going to hold you liable for the condition of a fourteen year old carpet are slim. The concept is "amortization". That means the landlord carpeted the place at least fourteen years ago, and the wear and tear that has occurred naturally is going to be worth less than the rent he's received for that carpet over the past fourteen years.

I don't see how you could be held liable for living with the same carpet for the past fourteen years. If the landlord claims you ruined the carpet, possibly, but just for ordinary wear and tear, he's more than gotten his value out of it. Hope this helps. Elizabeth Powell