Can our landlord make us pay for professional cleaning services between tenants?

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Topic: Can our landlord make us pay for professional cleaning services between tenants?

Real Estate October 10, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Can our landlord make us pay for professional cleaning services between tenants?

After moving into a new apartment, I received a notice that my previous landlord had decided to keep nearly a third of the security deposit for cleaning and repairs.  According to our lease, the house was to be left in “broom-clean condition, free of debris and trash” – which it was.  There is also a provision saying that the deposit can be used to restore the premises to good condition if we were not in compliance.  However, the cleaning services were scheduled by landlord before an inspection or before we had vacted the space.  Both the carpet cleaning and other services took place before our lease had technically ended.  In short, these services were going to be completed regardless of the condition of the home.
After writing him an email, he responded saying that this is to ensure that we are returing the house in the same condition in which we received it.
It seems to me that cleaning between tenants should be something that the landlord covers.  Or at the very least, tells us that we will be responsible for so that we might have the opportunity to shop around and compare prices.  Am I crazy?  Has anyone else been in a similar situation?

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Tell the landlord he needs to return the security deposit or you’re going to take him to small claims court. Did you take pictures?

This is a no-brainer. Send via certified and uncertified. Tell him you will be filing suit as of XX/XX/2012 if he does not return the remainder of your deposit. Tell him you will be seeking double or triple damages. This should get you a check. If it doesn’t follow through and sue him. I know it is a pain, but a pain is worth it to not let someone screw you over. Don’t just let him win.

This sounds a bit sketchy to me. Check your lease; I think most if not all leases allow for normal wear and tear of the property. So unless you really soiled the carpets or drew on the walls with markers, I’m fairly sure the landlord can’t use your money to clean them up.

Thanks for the responses.  I have certainly learned my lesson to take pictures and take other measures to cover myself.  Unless he can show me in the lease where we were required to cover the cost, I will be fighting this and considering small claims.

There’s also a general rule about who has to pay for what, and after how long.  I’ve been told by landlords that when someone’s been in an apartment 3 years, repainting/recarpeting is expected, so they don’t charge tenants.  Less than that and they can prorate the cost.  (It’s usually stipulated in the lease.)  For general cleaning fees, a walk-through with a landlord when you move out is the only way to ensure you’re not going to get any surprises, and any charges that come up can be negotiated on the spot.  People think this is a pain to do, but trying to recover a withheld security deposit seems like a larger pain.

I actually picked up the paperwork to file a small claims against my landlord for the exact same thing.

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