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What are reasonable costs for replacing a carpet in a rental property?

Here's the background - a bedroom carpet in a rental property has a bottle of wine spilled on it. The tenant apologises to the landlord and agrees (verbally) to replace the carpet at the end of the tenancy.

After moving out, the bill for the new carpet was much more than the tenant expected. The room was slightly larger than estimated (requiring 4 x 4m of carpet instead of the initial guestimate of 3 x 3m) (the actual size is about 3.1 meters each side). In addition, the bill also includes the cost of delivery and fitting, plus new underlay and the removal of the old carpet. The end result is that the bill is about 4 times the tenants 'guestimate' and nearly half the overall deposit. The tenant is now reluctant to pay.

Does the tenant have any wriggle room on paying this bill? is it fair and reasonable (and legal!) for the landlord to include the cost of delivery, fitting and removal of the old carpet? Or should the tenant be limited to just paying for the carpet and the landlord pick up the rest of the costs?

Further info - tenancy was a 12 month Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). Carpet was new at start of tenancy, the bill comes from a reputable high-street carpet retailer. The replacement carpet is similar in quality (and cost) to the original. 10% has been deducted from the bill to cover depreciation.

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  • Did the tenant arrange the carpet replacement service himself or did the landlord do it and send the tenant the bill? If the tenant agreed to “replace the carpet,” I think that could only be reasonably understood to mean covering all costs associated with the replacement, including delivery and fitting. Whether the verbal contract is legally binding is another matter. Aug 12 at 17:50
  • @AffableAmbler There is no contract without consideration. The tenant has agreed to do something (replace the carpet) but the landlord has (presumably) given nothing in return. Instead, this will be dealt with via the tenant's (likely) obligation under the original contract (the tenancy agreement) to hand the property back in good condition and to pay for any damage, subject to an allowance for fair wear and tear.
    – JBentley
    Aug 12 at 18:33
  • Related: law.stackexchange.com/questions/65116/…
    – Rock Ape
    Aug 12 at 19:43
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Your tenancy agreement most likely has terms requiring you to hand the property back in good condition or similar condition to how it was at the start, and to pay for any damage which you cause, allowing for any fair wear and tear. Spilling a bottle of wine on the carpet is not fair wear and tear, but at the same time the landlord cannot reasonably expect to get back a brand new carpet after a 12 month tenancy. In my opinion he has covered for that by deducting 10% from the cost, so the bill you are left with seems reasonable. It's not the landlord's fault his carpet was destroyed, so there's no particular reason he should have to pay for the delivery and fitting.

With that said, the landlord would have been required to register your deposit with a tenancy deposit scheme and provide you with prescribed information within 30 days of receiving the deposit pursuant to section 213 of the Housing Act 2004. Assuming they did so then you can challenge any deposit deduction using that scheme's dispute resolution procedure. Doing so is free of charge so you have very little to lose other than your time. In my experience the dispute resolution services, which are not courts, can come up with some fairly irrational and badly considered decisions, so it is entirely possible you will get lucky. I have seen deductions reduced by 50% for reasons that appear to make little sense.

In the event that the landlord failed to register your deposit and/or provide you with prescribed information within the required deadline, then you are in better luck. You can sue your landlord in the County Court under section 214 of the Housing Act 2004 and the court must make an order awarding you an amount between 1 and 3 times the deposit.

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