Renters Rights on Carpets & Painting

A fresh paint job and new carpeting may be all a dingy living room or dining room needs to make it more hospitable. If you are leasing, however, it is usually around the landlord to make those types of improvements. States like California require landlords to maintain the premises habitable, and in those conditions you may have the ability to deduct the improvements in the rent if, with no residing on the premises is dangerous.

Responsibility for Repairs

Before you move into a rental unit, an implied warranty of habitability ensures it does not have any health or physical hazards, such as loose floorboards, gas escapes or undisposed waste. Throughout your tenancy, the implied warranty requires the landlord to fix any conditions which become hazardous. By signing a rental agreement, you also agree to keep the property clean and in livable condition and to fix any damage which results in the negligent use of the property. The conditions of this shared responsibility are spelled out in the rental agreement, and you normally must provide a damage deposit.

Hazardous Conditions

Among the conditions that may leave a rental unit uninhabitable, and for which the landlord is usually responsible, are electric malfunctions, large pipes escapes and ineffective safety gear, like loose stair handrails. These circumstances arguably also include lead-based paint and mold. Units older than around 50 years are most likely to get lead paint on the walls, and whether the paint is peeling off, it could be ingested by anybody living there. The toxicity of lead-based paint is well recognized. Mold doesn’t affect everyone in exactly the exact same manner, but it can lead to adverse reactions in people that are sensitive to it, and for many people, it constitutes a health hazard.

Your Options as a Tenant

Once you’ve determined that the older paint job or the moldy carpeting are toxic, it’s within your rights to get hold of the landlord and demand that he fix the circumstance. If you can not make contact, the landlord doesn’t answer or he refuses your demand, the laws of several states, such as California, permit you to perform the repairs yourself and pay for them in the rent, so long as the repairs cost less than one month’s rent. You have the right to abandon the premises and quit paying rent if the repairs are more expensive than that. Both these remedies assume you’ve given the landlord reasonable time to act in your own demands.


A landlord is not required to maintain a unit in aesthetically pleasing condition, so if you want him to cover for new paint and carpeting, you should have positive evidence that the existing conditions represent a health hazard, and you must notify him of the fact in writing. If you opt for this adversarial route, then you may wind up in court, and any damage to the property which has resulted from the use of it may count against youpersonally. It’s better to negotiate in more positive terms, explaining the problem and providing solutions to help offset the cost. If it is an issue of aesthetics, however, and the landlord simply doesn’t want to alter the paint or carpets, you are out of luck.

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