Can a landlord require use of an approved cleaning company and keep the security deposit if you don’t?

UPDATED: Dec 22, 2011

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Can a landlord require use of an approved cleaning company and keep the security deposit if you don’t?

After I gave notice of move out, my landlord sent me a letter with a list of people that do carpet cleaning. I called them, but the numbers supplied were personal cell phones and not actual companies. Therefore I hired a professional local carpet cleaning company to do the job. The carpets were very clean and I paid about $150 for stain removal and heavy duty cleaning to make sure they looked good. They weren’t very clean when we moved in (as noted on inventory form) and actually looked better after we left. However, landlord kept part of my deposit because we didn’t use the “approved” vendor.

Asked on December 22, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, a tenant is NOT responsible for carpet cleaning unless his/her lease provides that he or she is--or the tenant (or the tenant's guests, family, pets, etc.) created some unusual or extreme stains, like pet urine or red wine stains. However, if it was just regular wear and tear and the lease did not require carpet cleaning when you moved out, you were under no obligation to clean the carpet and should get your deposit.

If there were extreme stains, then the only requirement is to remove them; if they were removed, then your obligation is discharged and the landlord may not keep your deposit.

Only if the lease not only required you to clean the carpet but required you to use approved vendors could the landlord keep part of your deposit for not using the approved vendor--in that case, the requirements of the lease as to what you have to do are enforceable.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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