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Marsha411JD, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 19673
Experience:  Licensed Attorney with 29 yrs. exp in Landlord Tenant issues
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I have been renting a townhouse last eleven months. My lease

Customer Question

I have been renting a townhouse for the last eleven months. My lease will end the end of June. The owner decided she wanted to put her place on the market. I agreed to allow her to do it while I'm still in it. I suggested she might want to clean the carpet since I planned on cleaning it on my way out but not until the end of June as I move out. Her cleaners come back and tell her my dog peed all over the carpets everywhere. My adult dog had backpeddled in this house and had accidents but we had cleaned them all and you could see nothing. Couldn't figure out how they would know. I called a carpet cleaner I trust who told me carpet cleaners do that all the time, make claims that can't be proven and get themselves an extra $200 in pet stain charges to the client. I told my landlord what I found out. She's now changed her mind and is waiting until I'm out to put the place on the market. She's also planning on replacing all the carpet in the townhouse. I'm wondering if she's planning on trying to charge me for replacing all her carpet. So my question is despite the carpet not smelling, looking clean she's going to replace it. Can she legally hold me financially responsible for her carpet when i told her that my dog had been sick for a while and yes there had been stains but I had removed them?? Heck the dog had blood stains I got out of the carpet from when she was sick and no one mentioned those. I don't like how she's behaving now. It would seem that an element of trust has been broken. I"m just wondering what my rights are. I've also asked her if she's replacing carpet what her expectations are for cleaning and treating the carpet with flea and tick on my way out. She hasn't answered.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 5 months ago.


Thank you for the information and your question. You don't say what State you rent in so I cannot discuss the time line and rules under your State law for the refunding of security deposits. If you want to provide your State where you rent after you receive my answer, then I can provide that information.

But, in general, in order for a landlord to either take an offset from a security deposit or to file suit for damages over the amount of the security deposit, they must be able to prove to the court that the damages were caused by the tenant and that the repairs/replacement was reasonably necessary to bring the unit back into the condition it was in before it was damaged. Normal wear and tear is not chargeable to the tenant and also repairs, as mentioned, must be reasonable necessary. There is no hard fast rule as to whether or not a complete replacement of a carpet versus patching it, or professionally cleaning it, is chargeable to the tenant. It is a case by case basis, depending on the facts.

It would be helpful to you if you have photos or a walk through from when you rented the unit that showed the carpet's condition and if that condition was already worn down. Otherwise, you would have to testify to the facts and provide any photos you do have to rebut any evidence that the landlord might present should this go to court.

Please feel free to ask for clarification if needed. Or, provide your State so I can give you the deadline, etc., for your landlord to refund your security deposit or offset notice to you.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
The state is Virginia. I asked her contractor to explain to me what damage they found because I was baffled and they refused to tell me. My carpet contractor told me that was very suspect behavior. What I see happening is she can have a contractor fill out some sheet claiming massive damage. My dog went through a tough period for several weeks of peeing inside the house. We cleaned up many stains but they were gone and no smell either. I'm still living in the place for now. The carpet is clean. There are no stains coming back because gee... I already had gotten them out. I have no idea how old the carpet is. I know I can demand proof of receipt of a carpet install in the last year if she tries to charge me for the entire carpeting in the house. I already told her I had a good cleaner that would guarantee the carpet would be like new after he cleaned it as I moved out. So I don't get her attitude but it would be that this other carpet cleaner freaked her out.
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 5 months ago.

Thank you. Under Virginia law, you will have the right to be present at a move out inspection if you so choose and then the landlord has 45 days after return of possession to either refund your security deposit or send you an itemized list of any offset and any balance of your security deposit. If they either don't meet the deadline or withhold more than you believe is reasonable, then you can file suit in small claims court and that is when the landlord will have to prove the facts that I mentioned before.

The information you provided is what will be at issue if this goes to court. The landlord does not have to give you an opportunity to fix any issues after you move out.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
your answer is yes, the landlord can decide to charge me for full carpet replacement in this unit and good luck to me proving she's not entitled unless I take her to court.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
I would be best off having my own contractor come and make an assessment which I'm going to do and get it in writing. That would be good advice to anyone I'd think.
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 5 months ago.

No, that was not my answer at all. I said, they would have to prove that you not only damaged the carpet but also that replacing the entire carpet was necessary in under the circumstances. And yes, you might want to have someone come in and give you an estimate and their opinion.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
That other contractor will put in writing whatever she needs to "prove" her point. I will have my contractor come and assess and also take pictures as absolute proof. I might even ask her to come and witness my contractor checking it out.
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 5 months ago.

You could ask her. She doesn't have to come, but as mentioned,you do have the right to a walk through on move out at which time you can note any disagreement with what she might note as damage. In the end, as mentioned, it is a court (if there is no agreement) that decides based on evidence. That would require testimony, not just written papers, about the condition and then the court decides who and what they believe.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
I have no interest in court. I think I can disprove her dishonest contractor.
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 5 months ago.

It is always preferable to reach an agreement if you can outside of court, but my job is just to let you know what your options are, should you not be able to agree. Best to you.

Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 5 months ago.

Hello again,

I wanted to touch base with you and make sure that you did not have any further follow up questions for me from the answers I provided to you on the 26th. For some reason, the Experts are not always getting replies or ratings (at the top of the question/answer page you are viewing or in the pop up box for this question), which is how we get credit (paid by the Site) for our work, that the customer thinks have gone through. In your case I have not received your rating. Please keep in mind that I cannot control the law or your circumstances, and am ethically bound to provide you with accurate information based on the facts you give me even if the news is not good. If you are having technical difficulties with reading, replying or rating, please let me know so that I can inform the Site administrator. Please note that Site use works best while using a computer and using either Google Chrome or Firefox.

In any event, it was a pleasure assisting you and I would be glad to attempt to assist you further on this issue, or a new legal issue, if needed. You can bookmark my page at:

Thank you.

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