What to do if when I moved out of my last apartment I paid a professional carpet cleaner but my landlord charged for another cleaning anyway?

When I moved out of my last apartment I paid a professional carpet cleaner to clean the carpets and do a pet treatment since my brother’s dogs peed on my carpet once. I provided the invoice to my manager on move-out proving it had been done. I then see that the landlord is charging me $100 for carpet pad/replacement and $100 for damage charges/pet seal. I paid a $300 pet fee when I moved in yet they say it was for cleaning and shampooing hallways, purchasing doggie bags and treating the grounds for fleas. They claimed that they had to replace the pad (and carpet but said they didn’t charge for that) because of the “distinct dog urine smell”. Can they do that? Can’t they use the pet fee for that? What can I do?

Asked on September 6, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If a tenant--or his or her pets--cause damage to a landlord's property, then the tenant can be held liable for the cost to repair or replace the damaged items. Since pets impose other costs or risks on a landlord (scratches on floors or walls; damage to landscaping; fleas; risk of liability), the landlord is entitled to charge a pet fee to allow the tenant to have a pet--remember: a landlord could simply bar all pets outright, and therefore may instead legally require a higher fee or cost to have pets--and is not required to apply that fee to specific pet-related damage. From what you write, if the pet peed on the carpet, $200 for damages seems justifiable.

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