Carpet cleaning at the end of a tenancy
What You Need to Know About Carpet Cleaning
According to the USDA, Trade and Consumer Protection, landlords CANNOT charge for “routine” carpet cleaning – whether during the lease or as a deposit – regardless of what your lease says. Therefore, your landlord cannot lawfully take money out of your security deposit, even if:
- When you move out, your lease requires you to reimburse the landlord for the cost of upkeep.
- Your lease says you must provide a receipt proving that the carpets were cleaned.
- When you move in, your lease states that you must pay for carpet cleaning.
- According to your rental agreement, the cost of carpet cleaning is deducted from your security deposit.
- Any of the above rules are mentioned in a NONSTANDARD RENTAL PROVISION.
It is also unlawful to charge a tenant for carpet cleaning before moving in, as any payments greater than rent are considered security deposits (ATCP 134.02) and would be withheld if applicable.
What Is the Deadline for Removing a Carpet from My Rent?
The landlord may only use a tenant’s security deposit to pay for painting or carpet cleaning in cases of “unusual damage” as the result of “tenant abuse.” ATCP 134.06(3)(c).
What Should I Do If the Landlord Is Trying to Make Me Pay for Regular Carpet Cleaning?
- Write a letter to the landlord stating that according to ATCP 134.06(3)(c), they are not authorized to deduct routine cleaning, and there must be damages beyond “normal wear and tear” for them to be charged for it. The ATCP 134.06 (3) (c) stipulates that a landlord may not deduct money from a tenant’s security deposit for ordinary painting or carpet cleaning where no significant damage was caused by tenant abuse. In addition, the City of Madison’s Madison General Ordinance 32.07(14) prohibits landlords from charging for routine carpet cleaning.
- To contact the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, call 1-800-422-7128 or go to their website.
- To get back a security deposit that has been illegally withheld, file a claim in small claims court. You may be entitled to twice to three times the amount wrongfully taken. Wis Stat 66.0104(2)(b), Wis Act 108, Sec on Eff 12/21/11, provides the amount incorrectly kept two to three times.
What Does the Attorney General’s View on Carpet Cleaning Mean for You?
The California Attorney General’s stance on the issue is outlined in this opinion: The AG was asked two questions, which are answered as follows:
Do you have any questions regarding the carpet cleaning obligation of a landlord under Wis. Stat 704.07(2)?
No. The landlord’s essential duty to keep the premises “in a reasonable repair condition” does not include routine carpet cleaning.
Is it legal to ask a tenant to pay for professional carpet cleaning, in the absence of negligence or misuse on the part of the tenant, under Wis. Stat. 704.44?
No. Because routine carpet cleaning is not a legal duty for a landlord, requiring the tenant to undertake this obligation through an agreement does not render the contract void.
Even though a rental provision regarding routine cleaning would not render the lease void and unenforceable under Wis. Stat. 704.44(8), it is still unlawful to withhold money for carpet cleaning from the security deposit. The opinion says:
Finally, I’d like to point out that a landlord may not deduct carpet cleaning costs from a tenant’s security deposit if the tenant fails to comply with such a requirement.
Under your agency’s prior regulation, ATCP 134.06(3)(c), landlords are expressly forbidden from keeping security deposits “for normal wear and tear, or for other damages or losses for which the tenant cannot reasonably be held responsible under applicable law.”
The note states that carpet cleaning is an example of a prohibited reason for withholding a portion of a security deposit. Therefore, my conclusion that carpet cleaning provisions are enforceable does not negate the prohibition against deducting carpet cleaning costs from a tenant’s security deposit as a tactic to enforce them.