As experienced landlords know, carpet can take a beating. In fact, it’s arguably the most heavily used item in the home and requires frequent replacing. By understanding the causes of damaged carpet and following a few simple rules, you can extend the life of your carpet, keep tenants satisfied, and save money.
Common causes of carpet deterioration
Carpet isn’t meant to last forever, but you should certainly be able to get a few years out of it. Understanding some of the most common causes of carpet deterioration can help you prevent unnecessary damage.
• Lack of cleaning. In most cases, carpet deterioration is the direct result of a lack of cleaning. Whether it’s letting stains soak in or never vacuuming, poor cleaning habits can ruin perfectly good carpet.
• Pet-related issues. Pets are a nightmare for carpet. They shed, urinate, defecate, track in mud, chew, and everything in between. If you have a pet policy, keep this in mind.
• No house-rules. Finally, a lack of house rules can ruin carpet. In other words, not paying attention to removing shoes at the door and other bad habits can cause carpet to prematurely deteriorate.
In an effort to make carpet last longer, you should set your tenants up for success by following these easy tips and tricks:
• Choose the right carpet. The next section will discuss specifics regarding how to choose the right carpet, but it’s worth mentioning now that choosing quality carpet from the start is the best way to ensure it lasts. However, even with the right carpet, you should pay attention to the remaining tips.
• Use entryways to your advantage. As a rule of thumb, never let carpet stretch to an entryway. It’s better to place a hard surface (laminate, tile, hardwood) at entryways to cut down on the likelihood of dirt and debris being tracked inside. It also provides a great place for people to remove shoes. A small, simple landing is all you need. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to place entryway mats outside and inside doors to encourage people to wipe their feet before entering.
• Provide tenants with a vacuum. Very few tenants own a vacuum. It’s just not one of those things you want to deal with when moving. But that’s not to say a tenant won’t clean or vacuum. In order to solve this issue, many landlords supply their rental properties with a good vacuum and encourage their tenants to use it. This is a sub-$100 investment that’s well worth the price tag.
• Pay for an annual deep clean. After continued use, carpet fibers get matted down, dirt is embedded, and the yarn can even begin to lose its color. Getting your carpets professionally cleaned on a yearly basis (even semi-annual if possible) will not only make them look and smell better, but also extend the life in heavily-trafficked areas.
• Set a strict pet policy. The importance of having a pet policy cannot be stressed nearly enough. While you may allow pets, you need to have a firm stance on what kind of pets are allowed, whether they’re allowed indoors, and who is responsible for accidents. As we’ve discussed in previous posts, make sure you get each of these details in writing so they’re enforceable.
• Ask tenants to rotate furniture. Those wooden feet on couches, chairs, and tables can leave permanent marks in your carpet. Depending on the relationship you have with tenants, this tip may or may not be possible – but asking them to regularly rotate furniture can help prolong carpet life. They don’t have to make any serious changes – as moving furniture even a few inches can make a difference.
• Do away with carpet. Finally, if carpet is the bane of your existence, maybe it’s a better idea to do away with it altogether. Laminate flooring, tile, and hardwoods last longer and may even look better. If nothing else, at least check underneath existing carpet to see if there are any hardwoods hiding beneath. Homeowners are often surprised to learn previous owners used carpet to cover up other surfaces.
How to buy better carpet
When it does come time to have new carpet installed, you can do a better job of selecting a more durable solution. Here are a few things to consider:
• Carpet fiber. The first thing to consider is the type of carpet fiber. Not only does this affect the look, but also contributes to longevity and durability. Solution dyed polyester is very cost-effective and is virtually stain and bleach proof, nylon carpet fibers are great when you expect lots of foot traffic, and standard polyester is eco-friendly and pretty much stain resistant, too. Whatever you do, avoid staple polyester yarn. It’s being phased out and doesn’t hold up well at all.
• Carpet color. One aspect people don’t think about nearly enough is the color. While you may like the look of nice white carpet in the living room, it’s probably better to go with a darker color that shows less dirt and makes the room feel warmer.
• Upfront cost. It’s important to weigh the upfront cost of installing high-quality carpet versus the long-term savings. You probably don’t want to invest in top of the line carpet for rental properties, but you should definitely avoid the cheapest option – somewhere in between is ideal. Carpet should be good enough to hold up, but not so expensive that an accident would be costly on your end.
At Green Residential, we know better than most how to maintain properties and increase profitability for landlords. Whether you own a single rental property or have a portfolio with dozens of homes and apartments, we can help you every step of the way. We have more than 30 years of experience working with landlords in the Houston area and would love to build a working relationship with you. For additional information on our services, please contact us today!