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Is It Time to Update Your Rental Property’s Carpet?

If you own a rental property, you’ll know that maintenance is a tricky balance. On the one hand, it’s not like your own home, where you can clean and repair things as often as you see fit. Your tenants may or may not take care of the carpets and there’s not much you can do about it.

On the other hand, if you’re getting new tenants every year or so, the state of your property matters. New tenants will want to move into a place that’s clean, well-maintained, and looks new. You might clean the carpets every year or between tenants, but no matter what, it’ll start to wear out eventually. Here’s how you can tell that you should replace the carpet in your rental property.

You Find Stains in the Carpet That Won’t Go Away

You’ll find stains that tenants couldn’t get out that a professional cleaner will lift away with no problem — but some stains are there to stay. Most carpets come with a stain-resistant finish, which is a priority for rental property owners who won’t be there to make sure spills are cleaned up properly, but that finish will wear out eventually.

Bleach, plant food, tea, wine, and mustard are the toughest stains to remove. Some professional cleaners use what’s called the “flood extraction” method, where the offending area of carpet is soaked in cleaning solution and then dried with a powerful extractor, but if the stain has sat long enough, it’ll absorb into the carpet backing and even the pad underneath.

After you have the carpets professionally cleaned, have someone come look at the apartment with fresh eyes. If it’s starting to look like a minefield of discoloration, it’s probably time to change the carpets.

You See Signs of Excessive Wear and Tear

When purchasing carpet for a rental property, durability is a key consideration. You can’t control whether your tenants wear shoes in the house, whether they drag furniture around, or whether they’re using the right kind of vacuum.

Do you feel like you have to put down rugs to cover holes or worn spots in the carpet? Are the edges of the carpet, especially where carpet meets hard floor, starting to fray? Are there sections of carpet fiber that are matted and flat, even after cleaning? If so, any one of these is a sign that the carpet fibers are simply near the end of their life.

Berber carpet is a great choice for rental properties for this reason. Berber’s closely packed, closed-loop design makes the fibers stronger, denser, and more durable. It’s also less likely to show imprints from furniture, which is important if you’re bringing in new tenants (with new furniture) every few years.

Your Carpet Padding Is Wearing out

Sometimes, the most important damage isn’t on the surface of your carpet — it’s underneath. Carpet padding is a layer of foam, fabric, or other material that lies between your carpet and the subfloor. It makes the carpet soft and comfortable, insulates sound and heat, and evens out slight irregularities in the plywood or cement board underneath.

However, carpet padding can also absorb spills through the carpet — it looks clean on the surface, but can do long-term damage to the padding itself. Walk around your rental unit with socks on, taking small, careful steps. If you feel uneven spots or divots in the floor, it’s a good indication that your carpet padding is wearing out and needs to be replaced.

You Can’t Shake the Smell

Every home starts to accumulate a distinct smell after a while, but after a good deep cleaning, the smell should go away almost entirely. If it doesn’t, it might be an indicator of a lingering stain or mildew, which means you’ll need to replace the carpets. Mildew can be annoying at best or a genuine health risk for sufferers of allergies and asthma.

When you have your carpets professionally cleaned, ask the cleaners to use an unscented solution if possible. A scented solution might smell better in the short term, but the perfumes can mask deeper issues in the carpet.

Owning a rental property is a delicate balance of how much maintenance you should do to keep your place appealing but still turn a profit. In terms of priorities, carpets should be high on the list. When a new tenant comes into an empty apartment to see if they want to live there, the carpet will be front and center in their mind — make sure it’s up to their standards!