Professional Carpet Cleaning | Can a landlord charge me when moving out?

Can a landlord charge me for professional carpet cleaning before moving out?

According to section 40 of the Residential Tenancies Act, the tenant must “leave the premises in a reasonably clean and reasonably tidy condition” when vacating the property at the end of a lease. Nowhere does it specify that tenants are responsible for the professional carpet cleaning of the property, and so it is unlawful for your landlord to:

  • tell you that you are responsible for covering the cost of professional cleaning, including carpet cleaning.
  • require you to cover the costs of having the property/carpet professionally cleaned.
  • add a condition to your tenancy agreement requiring you to have the carpet professionally cleaned when you move out.

So long as you:

  • thoroughly clean the property before you leave, and
  • have taken good care of the property/carpet during your tenancy.

However, if you have damaged the carpet to the point where it no longer constitutes as normal wear and tear, the costs of cleaning or replacing the carpet may be deducted from your bond. This is something that you will need to discuss and settle with your landlord before you apply to have it refunded, and if you cannot agree, then you can take the issue to the Tenancy Tribunal. Read more about the bond refund process here.

Avoid damaging carpet

In order to prevent carpet from becoming an issue when you leave your property, make sure that you take the time to take care of it throughout your tenancy. Make sure that you:

  • clean up spills quickly and promptly, and that you
  • vacuum regularly. Regular cleaning is especially important if you have small children or pets since they’re more likely to do more damage to carpet.

When your landlord asks for professional cleaning

If your landlord tries to get you to pay for professional cleaning when you leave your rental, make sure to tell them that you’re aware that under the Residential Tenancies Act you do not have to do this.
Sometimes landlords might also be unfamiliar with the law. If they continue to ask for cleaning money, and you can’t see any way that you can resolve this issue between yourselves, you can take the issue to the Tenancy Tribunal and they will decide who is responsible.

Carpet cleaning disputes

The best way to understand the Residential Tenancies Act is to see it in action. Here are some disputes concerning carpet cleaning at the end of a tenancy.
OXYGEN.CO.NZ LIMITED vs Kaur, Ramanjeet and other parties
Summary: Landlord applied for compensation for damages caused throughout tenancy. This included damage to carpet and other areas of the house. After deliberation by Tenancy Tribunal, they decided the damage did not exceed normal wear and tear and the Landlord was ordered to return $1000 bond to tenants and pay further compensation of $138.90.
Jones, Linda Jane vs Boyd, Alana Sheree
Summary: Landlord applied for compensation for rent arrears and damages caused throughout tenancy. This included damage to carpet. After deliberation by Tenancy Tribunal, they decided the house was not left in a reasonably tidy condition and that the damage caused was more than fair wear and tear. The tenant was ordered to pay the landlord $4,211.04, with $325 being for carpet cleaning.

There are lots of situations where a landlord might try to take advantage of a tenant who doesn’t know the tenancy laws inside and out.
Making sure that you thoroughly read through any agreement before signing is important. This will help you avoid any nasty surprises – like professional cleaning bills – in the future. Knowing your rights and obligations can go a long way to making your time as a tenant much easier and more enjoyable.
Featured photo by Ty Carlson on Unsplash

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