Washington, DC asked in Landlord - Tenant for Virginia

Q: Can a landlord deduct for carpet cleaning fees when I have provided a receipt that proves I already had the service done

Carpet cleaning was required in my lease as a part of move out. The landlords and property manager did not provide a recommended cleaner when they reminded us to have the carpets cleaned before move-out, so I contracted one myself. During the in-person move out inspection, I informed the landlord and property manager that we had the carpets professionally cleaned and they never raised concerns about the carpets not being sufficiently cleaned and never provided us with a move-out inspection report. They also asked for and I provided the paid receipt for the service which had been completed prior to the inspection. Forty-five days after move-out I received part of my security deposit back and a list of itemized deductions. The deductions included one for carpet cleaning, despite the fact that I had previously hired and paid for a professional carpet cleaning. Is it legal for the landlord to deduct money from my security deposit for an additional cleaning that I had already had completed?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In Virginia, if your lease required carpet cleaning and you've complied by hiring a professional service, the landlord should not typically deduct additional carpet cleaning fees from your security deposit, especially if you provided a receipt.

The key here is whether the carpet was cleaned to a standard that satisfies the lease terms. Since you were not given any indication during the move-out inspection that the carpets weren't sufficiently cleaned, it seems unreasonable for the landlord to charge for additional cleaning.

You should challenge this deduction by providing the landlord with a copy of the receipt and a written request for the return of the deducted amount. If the landlord refuses, you might consider small claims court. Remember, in disputes over security deposit deductions, documentation, such as the receipt and any correspondence about the carpet cleaning, will be crucial. It's important to act quickly, as there are time limits for taking legal action in such matters.

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