Q: My landlord wants me to pay for professional carpet cleaning, despite not clarified in lease agreement. What do I do?
My landlord just sent us a letter saying that we need to have a carpets professionally cleaned before moving out. However, the lease does not mention the house needing to be professionally cleaned whatsoever. The most it mentions regarding carpets is that it should be "cleaned". And before I signed the lease, I specifically asked him if I could rent out a carpet cleaner for this aspect of the lease, to which he said yes.
I am an overly clean person and even used a black light to detect damage to carpets with no luck.
I've been trying to read up on it, but I've been finding confusing results.
For example, I am finding that, In the state of Wisconsin, landlords can NOT take carpet cleaning out of the security deposit. In fact, they can only subtract a reasonable amount for carpet replacement if there was damage to the carpet that are beyond "normal wear and tear".
But I'm also finding that they can bill you rather than taking it out of the security deposit.
What is true?
A: Both are true. Landlords cannot deduct this cost from security deposits and may seek to recover the costs through billing or an action to recover the cost.
Under Wis Admin Code ATCP 134.06(3)(c) landlords cannot withhold from a tenant's security deposit for normal "wear & tear" even if included in a nonstandard rental provision. This means that a landlord cannot automatically deduct the cost of routine carpet cleaning from a tenant's security deposit unless the cleaning is necessary as a result of damage, waste or neglect and is, therefore, something more than normal wear & tear.
It is acceptable to indicated in the rental agreement that the tenant is responsible for providing and paying for routine carpet cleaning. See DOJ letter to DATCP dated 7/31/13. But, if the tenant fails to do so, a landlord still cannot deduct the cost of routine carpet cleaning from the tenant's security deposit. Even though a landlord cannot deduct for cleaning specified in the rental agreement, the landlord may bill the tenant and may even file a claim to recover costs associated with carpet cleaning.
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