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Chris T., JD
Chris T., JD, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 4779
Experience:  Experienced in both state and federal court.
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My dog scratched the hardwood floors in a rental that I rented

Customer Question

My dog scratched the hardwood floors in a rental that I rented for 2 years. During the 2 years I was NEVER late on rent. I never called the the landlady to make repairs. I came out of pocket for minor repairs and power washed the porches and decks saving her hundreds of dollars. She loved me! Unfortunately, my dog scratched the floors. I agreed the scratches were probably above and beyond normal wear and tear and agreed she could keep my $2400. deposit to go towards the refinishing. The cost to refinish is about $3500. (The average of 5 estimates).
The house is 12 years old and has been in a rental program for 8 of the 12 years. When I moved in I signed a Condition Report which stated there were already "marks" on the hardwoods. I felt they were more like "gouges" because they were all the way through the finish and exposing bare wood. I didn't want to be blamed for them so I took photos of them, and commented about them on the Condition Report. My dog scratches are nowhere near as deep, nor did the dog scratches expose bare wood like the gouges that were already there. (Granted there were only a few gouges in each room, and the dog scratches are pretty much everywhere), but regardless, the floors had preexisting damage before I moved in.
Can the landlady charge me the full price to refinish 12 year old floors considering they have not received any polyurethane upkeep since they were installed? When I moved in the poly coating was non existent in the high traffic areas and I feel the lack of maintenance over the years (8 years worth of tenants and pre-existing gouges) all contributed to the need to refinish the floors, so should I have to foot the entire bill? Will a judge depreciate for the FINISH of the hardwoods, like they do on carpet?
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Chris T., JD replied 6 months ago.
Hello. I'll be happy to assist you.To answer your question directly, you are only liable for restoring the floors to the condition (or value) they were in when you took possession of the house, minus normal wear and tear. In other words, the landlord doesn't get a windfall because your dog damaged the floors. So, let's say the floors cost $5000 new, but when you took possession of them, they had been significantly damaged, reducing their value by half, or $2500. You would then be responsible for $2500, at most. In reality, there is some normal wear and tear that should be expected.
Expert:  Chris T., JD replied 6 months ago.
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