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California 80% Carpet Rule | All You Need to Know!

When looking for housing in California, you will sooner or later come across the term 80% carpet rule, otherwise known as the 80/20 rule. The term describes a common practice in California and many other municipalities. It dictates that a carpet should cover at least 80% of your walkable floors.

But why does this strange rule exist, how can it be enforced, and what does it mean for you specifically? Let’s look at everything you need to know about this topic!

In California, landlords/HOAs can include a rule in the lease/contract saying 80% of the walkable floor must be carpeted. This is not a law, but when included in a legally-binding contract, it becomes enforceable. It exists to manage noise levels, promote neighbor harmony, and prevent unwanted sales.

Where Is the 80% Carpet Rule Stated?

The carpet rule is not explicitly incorporated into any law. However, it is frequently included in tenancy clauses in certain areas, for instance, in California. Therefore, it is still considered to be a common rule despite the fact that it is not stated in any building code or state and municipal laws.

It is most common in overcrowded urban areas where landlords and tenants feel the need for a practice that could help reduce the noise levels and prevent neighbor conflicts. As a result, you can often find the 80% carpet rule incorporated into the lease or condo HOA terms.

Can the Rule Be Legally Enforced?

The landlord can but doesn’t necessarily have to provide the carpets. So, often enough, the execution of the rule falls on the tenant, not the landlord. Meaning it is your responsibility as a tenant to cover 80% of the walkable floors with a carpet at your own expense. But are you legally required to do this?

The rule itself is not legally binding, and therefore it cannot be legally enforced in any way. But there is one important and very common exception.

If you signed a contract that included a similar rule, it automatically becomes legally binding, just as the rest of the contract is. It is now legally enforceable no matter whether it was incorporated into your lease, the HOA terms, or another legal document.

Naturally, you have a right to refuse to sign a contract that contains this rule. In that case, you most likely won’t get the apartment. And if you sign and then fail to fulfill the requirements, it could lead to lease termination.

If you decide to take the issue to court, beware that you have a very slim chance of winning the case since the rule is a common practice. So, unless the terms of the rule stated in the contract are unreasonable, you shouldn’t try to break them.

Is It 80% in Total or 80% or Room?

Although the rule can be explained in a few different ways, typically, it means that you have to cover 80% of the walkable area of your floors. It doesn’t mean each room needs 80% coverage nor that it should be 80% of your square footage. The rule only focuses on the walkable parts of the floors.

However, it is not always this simple. Because the rule is not incorporated into any code, the exact requirements can vary from case to case. You need to check what are the exact terms of the contract and make sure that you understand them.

It is possible that some landlords will ask for a higher percentage of the floors to be covered or that they change the terms of the rule in some other way.

Why Does the Rule Exist?

We have already suggested that one of the main reasons why the rule came about and why the landlords incorporate it into their terms is to prevent neighbor conflict. No one wants an upstairs neighbor that is annoyingly loud; similarly, no one wants to be told that they can’t freely walk around their home because it is disturbing others.

The 80/20 carpet rule can often stop similar conflicts before they’ve even had a chance to start because the rule greatly helps to ensure compliance with noise-control legislation.

Young man wearing yellow ear plugs with his head pressed against a pillow

Sometimes we can be shy addressing abundant noise issues, fearing that it could create bad blood between our neighbors and us. But if you happen to face this problem, it is important to know how to approach your upstairs neighbor without seeming rude or annoying.

But let’s focus on the carpet rule again. Thanks to its help with dealing with conflict and noise-control compliance, it prevents loss of tenants and sales, or alternatively, it also prevents unwanted sales from happening.

How can an ordinary carpet rule save landlords and tenants so much trouble? It helps people not to become frustrated with their neighbors or with the noise in general, which in return makes them, or the owner, less likely to sell, refuse to buy, or abruptly leave a property.

If Nothing Else, It’s Common Courtesy

We have all heard the golden rule saying that we should treat others as we want to be treated. I don’t think anyone would like it if their upstairs neighbors were utterly ignorant and didn’t do anything to reduce the noise they were creating by walking.

Since none of us would like to be in a similar situation. It is only polite not to be this person ourselves, but to, instead, respect our downstairs neighbors and cover the floors where we can.

At the same time, the floors might be too loud and squeaky, causing your neighbor to keep complaining even if you are abiding by the carpet rule. In this situation, we have this simple solution for you.


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