What is the Real Deal With Carpet Cleaning?
The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection states that landlords cannot charge routine carpet cleaning fees, regardless of what lease terms.
Even if a tenant has made a security deposit, he or she cannot legally take it from the landlord.
- Carpet cleaning must be paid by the tenant when they move out of their lease.
- Lease states that tenant must show receipt that carpets were cleaned.
- According to the lease, tenants must pay for carpet cleaning upon their move in
- The lease states that carpet cleaning costs will be taken from the tenant’s security deposits
- All of the above are included in a NONSTANDARD RENTAL RENTAL PROVISION
The landlord cannot require tenants to pay for carpet cleaning before they move. Security deposits ATCP 134.22(11) are any payments above rent. The withholding of this money is considered an illegal withholding from a security deposits, and it is not legal absent “unusual damages”.
What is the maximum carpet cleaning charge a landlord can collect?
A landlord can withhold a tenant’s carpet cleaning security deposit from them if there is “unusual damage” due to “tenant abuse”. ATCP 134.6(3)(c)
What can a tenant do if their landlord is trying to make them pay for routine carpet cleaning?
- Send a letter explaining to the landlord that routine carpet cleaning cannot be deducted unless the carpet is damaged beyond normal wear and tear ATCP 134.03(3)(c). If the tenant lives in Madison, the city ordinances do not allow for withholding routine carpet cleaning MGO 32.07(14).
- You can file a written complaint to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. You can do so by calling 1-800-422-7128, or visiting their website.
- To recover a security deposit or a portion of it that was illegally withheld, you can file a small claims court claim. Two times the amount of security deposit that was wrongly withheld by Wis may be available to a tenant. Stat. 66.0104(2)(b).
Why can leases include charges for routine carpet cleaning?
Short answer: Leases that include routine carpet cleaning charges are not voidable and cannot be enforced.
If it is illegal for a landlord not to withhold a portion from the security deposit for routine cleaning (absent damage beyond “normal wear”), why can landlords include provisions to make these charges part of their contract?
J.B Van Hollen (now-former Wisconsin Attorney General) offered some insight into this issue in 2013. The document focuses on two main questions:
- Question: Does routine carpet cleaning at end of a lease fall under the landlord’s responsibility to maintain the premises in a “reasonable state of repair”? Wis. Stat. 704.07(2)
Answer: No. Answer: No.
- Question: Does a clause requiring the tenant pay for professional carpet cleaning in the absence negligence or inappropriate use of the tenant render a rental agreement null? Wis. Stat. 704.44(8)?
Routine carpet cleaning is not a legally-imposed obligation on a landlord. As such, assigning this responsibility through a contractual provision to a tenant does not render the rental agreement null.
Michigan State Law states that landlords are required to maintain their rental units in a “reasonable condition of repair.” Stat. 704.44(8). Routine carpet cleaning is not an obligation of the landlord to maintain their units. Therefore, the landlord cannot require tenants to pay routine carpet cleaning. The inclusion of routine carpet cleaning provisions does not make the lease invalid or unenforceable.
Hence, landlords can deduct the security deposit from the rental agreement.
The opinion notes that although it is permissible for tenants to arrange or pay carpet cleaning at the end of their tenancy, this does not allow landlords to deduct the carpet cleaning fees from the security deposit of tenants who have failed to do so. ATCP 133.26.3(c) states that landlords cannot withhold security deposits for ‘normal wear and tear’ or any other damages or losses for the tenants. Carpet cleaning is cited in the accompanying note as an example of an illegal basis for withholding part of a security deposit. I have concluded that carpet cleaning clauses are valid. However, this does not change the prohibition against deducting carpet-cleaning expenses from a tenant’s security deposit to enforce such provisions. “
ATCP 133.6(3)(c), states that a landlord may write a lease stating that the tenant must pay routine carpet cleaning. However, the landlord cannot take the security deposit out of this. They must treat any carpet cleaning charges that they collect in advance as part of the security deposit. This must be subject to a reimbursement. Deductions cannot be applied to “normal wear and tear”. A landlord cannot deduct “normal wear and tear” from a tenant’s rent (CR 14-038 Sec. 10).
If there are individuals in your family facing allergy-related problems, it may be high time to get your carpet professionally cleaned.
Healthy Carpets thinks its defiantly wroth checking with our local rules and regulations about having professionally cleaning the carpets after each tenant moves out. Please feel free to contact us if you have any further quesitons.