Can my landlord deduct money from my security deposit for a cleaning service if I left the place in a good condition?

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Can my landlord deduct money from my security deposit for a cleaning service if I left the place in a good condition?

I recently vacated an apartment and returned it to the original level of cleanliness before I left. I received my security deposit back from my landlord with a single sheet of paper saying he deducted 100 of my deposit and 100 from my roommates deposit for cleaning costs. He did not include any receipts, bills or details explaining what needed to be cleaned or why. When I got in contact with him he said he wouldn’t be able to get me any of the details or receipts until his office manager came back in a few weeks, and that he used a cleaning service because even though we did a very good job cleaning we still ‘missed a few things,’ but he could not elaborate on what things. Is he allowed to do this?

Asked on June 22, 2016 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Legally, a landlord may only deduct for cleaning if the unit was left in unacceptable move out condition (e.g. not "broom clean") and the landlord has to hire a professional cleaning service (i.e. not himself or his own staff) to clean. If you dispute that the cleaning was necessary, you could sue in small claims court, acting as your own attorney (to save legal fees) for the return of the money and force him, if he wants to keep it, to provide proof of the apartment's condition and what he paid for cleaning. Of course, you'll have to give up a day in court, which you won't be paid for, so it may not be worthwhile taking legal action.


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