A good lease agreement should state that tenants should leave a rental in the same condition it was upon moving in, minus normal wear and tear. Th
Carpets in rental units should be cleaned before a new tenant moves in. But can a landlord charge for carpet cleaning? Is it wear and tear? Or the tenant’s responsibility? Many landlords wonder if they can charge a tenant for dirty carpets.
When Landlords Should Not Charge a Tenant for Dirty Carpets
In most cases, landlords should not charge tenants for a standard carpet cleaning. Because carpet cleaning is part of the overall turnover costs, that is usually covered by the landlords.
In disputes over security deposits, courts have often considered basic carpet cleaning to be part of normal wear and tear. Some states prohibit landlords from withholding money from the deposit for basic cleaning.
If the carpet cleaning does not exceed a professional cleaner’s normal rate, and the carpet doesn’t have any actual damage, landlords should not charge a tenant for dirty carpets. In other words, landlords bear the cost of the routine carpet cleaning when a tenant moves out.
When Landlords Should Charge a Tenant for Dirty Carpets
If the carpet in a rental property is excessively dirty or damaged, the landlord can deduct the cost from the security deposit. Sometimes landlords will discover tenant abuse of the carpeting that is considered unusual damage.
Examples of unusual damage might include serious stains, oil, paint or pet urine that requires a professional carpet cleaner to stay longer and charge more than a routine cleaning. A landlord should definitely withhold the cost of the cleaning from this type of damage to the carpet. They should provide a copy of the receipt in their itemized deductions of the security deposit.
Some landlords include carpet cleaning responsibility as part of the lease agreement. This would mean the tenant is required to get the carpets professionally cleaned before leaving the apartment. However, if the tenant fails to do so, landlords can’t deduct the standard cleaning from the deposit. They will have to recoup the costs another way.
State laws differ in what and how landlords may deduct from the security deposit. It’s important for landlords to know their own state laws on the topic.
Who pays for carpet cleaning tenant or landlord?
The landlords we associate with usually charge for excessively dirty carpet if the lease provides for it and their state allows it. Most agree that landlords are responsible for a standard carpet cleaning. They consider that normal wear and tear.
Some landlords charge a carpet cleaning fee and include that in their lease agreement. Others require tenants to clean the carpets before vacating. Quite a few live in states that won’t allow them to deduct standard carpet cleaning from the deposit.
As with most landlord/tenant laws, what to do varies from state to state.
Ask A Property Manager – Handling Dirty Carpets with Rentals
In this weekly video series we discuss dirty carpets and how to handle them with rentals.
What Are Other Landlords Saying About When to Charge a Tenant for Dirty Carpets
Every landlord soon learns to navigate the complexities of the law surrounding security deposits. Even if they want to deduct for dirty carpets, they may not be able to. On the other hand, they can take other measure to ensure that the carpets are not left dirty when a tenant vacates.
Here’s a screenshot of landlords discussing this question in our private Facebook group for Landlords.
You can see even more comments on that post by checking it out in the group.