Can a landlord charge for routine carpet cleaning if it was not stated up front in the lease?

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Can a landlord charge for routine carpet cleaning if it was not stated up front in the lease?

My lease has a $100 non-refundable deposit and a $250 refundable security deposit. Upon move out, I was told that I would receive my deposit minus professional carpet and blind cleaning services. There were no stains on the carpet, it was in perfect condition. I understand that carpet cleaning is routine, however the lease said nothing about this being a deduction from my “refundable” deposit when they clearly knew this is something that would be deducted. I can’t tell from the landlord/tenant laws of WA state if this is legal or not. Any assistance is greatly appreciated.

Asked on April 1, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, a landlord may not charge for routine (e.g. annual or end-of-lease or tenant moving out) cleaning of any kind--carpet or otherwise--unless there was a lease provision to that effect. Otherwise, a landlord may only charge for repairs, or the sort of extraordinary cleaning that's equivalent to a repair, if required by the tenant's (or tenant's family, pets or guests) actions. So if you spilled red wine on the carpet, that could justify the landlord charging you for a cleaning. On the other hand, if the landlord is just getting the apartment ready to re-rent, then he cannot--that's routine cleanin, which may not be charged for absent a lease provision.


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