Can the landlord use your security deposit to clean the carpet?

UPDATED: Sep 14, 2011

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Can the landlord use your security deposit to clean the carpet?

I have lived in the same place for the last 6 years. I have a friend that has only lived in the apartment next to me for a year and the landlord used her security deposit to have the carpet professionally cleaned? I have been trying to find something that could help my friend out so she can take it to small claims court.

Asked on September 14, 2011 under Real Estate Law, South Dakota


S.J.H., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

This depends on the reason the carpet needed to be professionally cleaned. If the carpet was merely dirty from wear and tear and being lived on, the landlord cannot use the securityu for this purpose. However, if the carpet was stained by things that would require professional claenaing, i.e, wine, juice, dog urine, things of that nature, then the landlord can argue that the carpet was "damaged" and can deduct the cost of the cleaning from the security deposit but must return the rest. This is usually a fine line and my experience is, if the carpeting was damaged badly, the landlord normally replaces it. Since it was steam claned it must not have been that bad and perhaps the carpet did not raise to the level of "damaged" to warrant a reduction of security. I would demand a copy of the receipt as well as pictures of the alleged damage.

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