My new apartment has smelly carpets

So I moved in to this new apartment a couple days ago, as a renter. There was a family living here with a little dog before me. The owner shampooed the carpets (on my request) but today, now that they’re all dry, they smell distinctly… foul. I’m worried that this little dog took little leaks all over the apartment, especially near the corners (like where I put the bed, couch, desk). It smells really bad. I have trouble sleeping.

I didn’t sign a lease (it’s month to month), so I suppose if it comes down to it I could move out. But what’s a better way to approach this issue? Do I call the owner and tell him his apartment is unlivable? That he should replace the rugs? As the owner of a cat, I don’t think I can go that far.

Advice, O Great QT3 Mind?

Not to be too big of a downer, but the previous owners of our house were disgusting people who let their dog piss all over the floor. Replacing the carpetting would not have been enough, as the urine had soaked into the subflooring. Even after replacing the subflooring and putting in new carpetting, it wasn’t until we had the ducts cleaned that we purged the old animal smell from our house.

As a renter without a lease? Unless you LOVE the view, move!

Let the Hive-Mind help.

Tell the owner the place still stinks and ask him to have the carpets recleaned using an enzymatic cleaner made for pet stains.

I actually used to clean rugs as my college summer job, and what was said here already is absolutely correct. It’s most likely the dog piss has actually soaked into the floor beneath the rugs. So what’s ironic is that cleaning the rugs, if it uses much moisture (steam cleaning obviously leaves the rugs much damper) will actually draw the odor out from the floor and make the apartment smell worse. The only way to correct this is usually the drastic step of replacing the floor itself.

Thanks for the advice so far. I’ll contact the owner about giving it another go with the cleaning (enzymatic) and meanwhile look for another apartment in the area. Moving sucks, so I’d like that as a last resort…

An apartment I was living in suffered smoke damage from a fire in an adjoining unit - we scrubbed the walls, took out every piece of furniture, cleaned the carpet professionally, multiple times - nothing could get rid of that fucking stink. If your apartment has a serious lingering smell problem, just get the hell out. You’re not likely to get rid of it without a major expense. Moving sucks, but so does having everything of yours smelling like dog piss, man.

Pee on the floors yourself. Mark your territory, fire!

When I worked as an apartment manager, we replaced any carpets that were stinky (and charged the previous tenant for it). Your current landlord should have had the carpets cleaned without being asked, and s/he should have checked for any offending odors before allowing you to move in.

That being said, if you don’t want to move, and your landlord would be willing to reimburse you for it, there is a product you can purchase at PetSmart called Nature’s Miracle. It is pricey, but it will get rid of the odor. You have to saturate the carpets and allow it to dry though… Depending on the severity of the stains/smells, it may need multiple applications. And while the enzymes are eating the odor-causing material, the smell may temporarily get worse. I recommend using it in a steam cleaner, full strength, rather than the regular carpet cleansers.

In summation, the smell will get worse before it gets better, but Nature’s Miracle will eventually do the job.

Since you don’t know exactly where the dog urinated on the carpet (I’m assuming there are no tell-tale stains?) then you’re in for a lot of work and expense to get rid of the smell. It’s highly likely that the urine pentrated not just the carpet, but the padding and the subfloor beneath. There are products that could possibly get rid of the smell, such as Nature’s Miracle mentioned above and Urine Gone (, both enzyme eaters. The probelm with these types of cleaners is that they may not work if the areas were already chemically treated in the past to try and remove stains/oder. Also, since you don’t know exactly where the trouble spots are, you’re going to have to treat your ENTIRE carpet, which is going to be expensive and time consuming.

Honestly, the best thing to do would be to try and convince the landlord to replace the carpet and pad altogether. In between the removal of the old carpet and the installation of the new, try to be present so you can look for any tell-tale discolorations on the subflooring that mark heavily saturated areas, and possibly treat those (directly on the wood surface) with an enzyme cleaner. Better yet, if you discover stains on the subfloor, PAINT over them with Kilz Oderless Primer. I know that sounds crazy (painting your subfloor?!), but Kilz seals in oders, even pet oders, and since they’ll be carpeting back over it anyway who’s going to care if there are big white blotches on the subfloor?

I feel for you, as my dog recently passed away and he was sick enough before he did that he urinated several times on the same area of carpet right in front of my home office. Despite attempting to clean it thouroughly, there are some days it smells so bad that I can’t even work in there. I’m having my carpet and padding replaced in a couple of weeks (it needed replacing anyway, the smell is just a catalyst for doing it sooner) and will be treating the subfloor at that time as well.

For the sake of posterity, it should be noted that in this sentence, fire is not a verb.

The thing is, the landlord should replace the carpets. He is not going to get anyone else to live in the place for over a month so he may as well go ahead and get it done. The other thing is that the previous tenant may have been dinged for the carpet, and the landlord is just trying to see if he can pocket the money.

By the way, your situation would definitely qualify as a habitation issue with the health authorities in LA, meaning that they could come out and fine the landlord for violating health codes. You do not need to continue to pay for living in a place with pee in it. If I were you, I would try to get the landlord to see that it’s worth his while to just put in new carpet. It costs him a bunch to find new tenants and it costs you a bunch to move, so why not save the headaches and just put in new carpet?

Thanks again, everyone. The landlord is coming over today to help us move furniture to the non-carpeted areas and has scheduled an enzymatic cleaner for tomorrow (he was very responsive).

Luckily the smell has died down now that the carpet and subfloor is dry, and is now barely noticeable. So maybe drastic measures need not be taken…

Dampness always brings out those kinds of smells. So you may well get rid of them, after a second cleaning…once dry. Good luck.

Also, did quatoria just call fire ‘man’?

Maybe the “man” was referring to “piss.”

Check out the sealed padding (has a layer of plastic on top – Home Depot carries it, and it’s also their thickest padding). I’ll probably never buy carpet again, but I used that the last time I did, and I don’t think I’d purchase anything without that seal on top. It’s very reassuring.

I call everyone man, man. In that case, though, it was more a general statement of a universal truth - no one should have to live in a place that smells like dog piss - and not specifically directed to fire, otherwise I’d have said YOU shouldn’t have to live in a place that smells like dog piss, man.

So we packed up today, moved all the furniture into the kitchen, and are moving out for the day till the end of the weekend.

Are we supposed to pay rent? Is this something negotiated, or do I just deduct a few days? How do I know how many days I don’t pay for?

call the housing dept and/or health dept. and ask. In los angeles, they go nutso on the landlord, we had a tiny amount of water damage in silverlake and our rent was reduced to $375/month for nearly two years for a giuant 2 bedroom. 1 bedrooms there go for $1500. We didnt even pay it to the landlord, we paid it to the city and they held it.
No clue about SD, but I’m guessing they might have something similar for lazy landlords.

The best thing to do is consult with your local tenant’s association, they can tell you the facts over the phone. In California I’m pretty sure that not only do you not have to pay rent if you are moving because of a habitation issues, but the landlord has to pay something toward housing you (hotel room) while you are not in the unit. BUT I’m not an attorney and haven’t been in the landlord business for about 5 years now, so things could have changed.

LA/California laws are pretty tenant friendly because of the lack of rental units and the overwhelming desire to take advantage of this fact by landlords. Elsewhere this may not be the case.

Move the hell out!