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Is it legally possible for an apartment complex to charge tenant for carpet replacement after 9 yrs of renting, when moving out?

Sunnyside, WA |

My mother, a handicapped person on a fixed income had rented an apartment for almost 9 years, recently moved to another state. However, she and I cleaned the apartment and now the managers are claiming of dirty carpets (which in Oregon, have to be replaced after a tenant has occupied residence for a certain period of time), and also of smoke damage. How can an apartment complex legally not give a tenants cleaning deposit back to a handicapped individual on a fixed income when they cleaned the apartment the best that they could, with the help of family? How does a judge and lawyers look at situations like these? What are your inputs? I am setting up a meeting with the management of the apartment complex and want to have my ducks in a row. Thank you for any information.

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Attorney answers 2

Posted

The apartment complex can charge the tenant for damage done to the apartment, but they cannot charge for normal wear and tear. The landlord has gotten the benefit of a carpet that was at least nine years old at the end of a tenancy. Who knows, it could have been even older than that, as you don't say that the carpet was brand new when she moved in. Things such as a carpet in an apartment have a useful life - the UCC as adopted in WA actually defines the useful life, it is 12 years. There is no WA law that requires a landlord to replace a carpet after a fixed period of time, but clearly even with good maintenance, there will come a point where the carpet needs to be replaced. This would generally be the point where potential tenants consistently announce that the like the apartment, but the carpet is so old they won't move in until it is replaced.

The apartment complex cannot charge for normal wear and tear, only for damage. If your mom did not damage the place then they cannot keep a deposit. They also can't effectively prevent a person from smoking in the property, but smoke damage to the walls would be a basis to keep a deposit.

Hope this helps. Elizabeth Powell

Using Avvo does not form an attorney client relationship.

Asker

Posted

Thank you!!

Posted

Ms. Powell has provided an excellent answer. It is possible to charge for a carpet that is 9 years old, it may also be completely useless after 9 years of normal wear and tear. If the landlord withholds the deposit for carpet repair that you feel is unfair in light of Ms. Powell's analysis, you may take them to small claims court. If you go to small claims court make sure to ask for double the deposit.

This type of thing happens all the time and it is a way for the landlord to make an easy buck off of unsuspecting tenants. The problem is that they do not get taken to court enough on bogus charges to fear anything. And even if they do lose, they only have to pay back at most double the damage deposit. It is often times a calculated risk/money maker for the large apartment complexes.

This answer is for informational purposes only and should not be construed to establish an attorney client relationship. Before taking any legal action, it is always advisable to discuss your specific situation with an attorney.

Asker

Posted

Thank you!!

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