Can my landlord deduct a “professional cleaning services” fee from my security deposit on a house that was cleaned by the tenants?

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Can my landlord deduct a “professional cleaning services” fee from my security deposit on a house that was cleaned by the tenants?

The landlord deducted $50 per tenant’s security deposit for a professional cleaning service because the future tenants requested it and “he agreed with their assessment”. The landlord sent back the security deposit after the 20 day limit

Asked on June 28, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Rhode Island

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, the landlord may not do this UNLESS the departing tenants left mess, stains, or debris that exceeded what would be considered "normal wear and tear." If tenants do that--for example, leave old food in a refrigerator, so it should be extensively cleaned and disinfected; leave carpet stains that require  a professional cleaning; leave grease or stains on kitchen walls; etc., in that case, they could be charged for professional cleaning. So the only real issue is whether, even if the tenants did some amount of cleaning themselves, the premises were in a state that went beyond normal wear and tear. If so, the cost of a professional cleaning could be taken out of security deposits; if not, then no.


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