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Old 01-26-2012, 02:43 PM
2 posts, read 100,581 times
Reputation: 23


I live in CA. I just moved out of a unit where I had lived about 2.5 years. I left it in good, if not perfect conditions so I spent hours and hours scrubbing everything down, even though I lived alone and I kept my place super clean on a regular basis. I even shampooed the carpet myself (not professionally though) and there were no stains, rips or funky odors. I even checked online for what LLs look for to deduct money and made sure I covered everything.

We did the final walk through and the LL's agent said everything looked good.

I got my deposit check back, and they had deducted 130 for "partial cleaning" and "carpet cleaning."

Now, I know it isn't that bad, but I keep reading everywhere that a LL cannot charge the tenant for cleaning the carpet. According to the CA dept of consumer affairs "a landlord cannot routinely charge each tenant for cleaning carpets, drapes, walls or windows in order to prepare the unit for next tenancy." Does that applies to the vacating tenant or the entering tenant? As a reminder, I left the carpet super clean and I didn't damage or abused it beyond normal wear and tear.

Is there anything that gives them the right to cut a chunk off the check? If so, I am ok with it but I just want to make sure I don't point the finger at them unfairly OR don't want them to rob me just because they think I won't do anything about it, even if its just $130. It seems like no matter what you do to return the unit in spotless conditions, they still get away with keeping your deposit money.

P.S. They did not showed proof of the claimed "cleaning services."

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Old 01-26-2012, 03:15 PM
Location: California
35,056 posts, read 38,646,562 times
Reputation: 32264
I didn't know they weren't supposed to do that but my only recent experience has been with college housing for my child, where I put up the deposit money. I actually saw how they trashed he carpet so I didn't even question it when they deducted for the cleaning!
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Old 01-26-2012, 03:59 PM
2 posts, read 100,581 times
Reputation: 23
Well, if it was considered "damage or abuse beyond normal wear and tear" I guess you did have to pay and for example if they trashed a 6 year old carpet and the "life expectancy" of it was 10, you would've only had to pay about 4 years worth. But if the carpet was already in bad conditions before moving in, they shouldn't have charged.
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Old 01-26-2012, 04:03 PM
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
2,190 posts, read 6,497,005 times
Reputation: 2058
It seems that they took money out of your deposit illegally.
If there wasn't a stipulation in your rental agreement that the carpets be professionally cleaned and you did no damage to the carpet and you even cleaned yourself, i don't see how they can justify keeping any part of your deposit.
When / if you find that they kept some of your deposit illegally, threaten to take them to small claims court.
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Old 01-27-2012, 03:53 PM
15,188 posts, read 7,185,849 times
Reputation: 9433
In many states you can get treble damages.
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Old 01-27-2012, 10:50 PM
Location: Yucaipa, California
9,883 posts, read 20,604,950 times
Reputation: 6763
The landlord burned you but im not surprised. Its rare when anyone gets back the full deposit.
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Old 01-28-2012, 01:12 PM
27,876 posts, read 59,438,393 times
Reputation: 22679
My tenants often receive the full deposit refund...

I make it a point to do a pre move inspection and provide a detailed list of conditions outside the scope of normal wear and tear.

At move in, as part of the rental agreement, is a room by room condition and inventory with an explanation of what constitutes damage vs wear and tear.

My goal is to avoid surprises...

In some cases, I have had tenants go over the list and ask for pricing and then decide to have me do the cleaning or repair.

Carpet cleaning is a common one... I use a local family company and they charge $65 for a basic apartment...

California statute provides tenants the right to have a pre-move inspection...

Was a pre-move inspection requested? Do you have any documentation or findings?

In California there is no such thing as a non-refundable deposit. Deposits are only allowed to be retained for specific reasons.

Commercial carpet extraction equipment with an experienced operator can produce amazing results...

You have the right to see receipts for deductions made over $126 (Unless you waived this right)


Last edited by Ultrarunner; 01-28-2012 at 01:24 PM..
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Old 02-09-2012, 04:22 AM
2 posts, read 51,285 times
Reputation: 10
In my state most landlord or property management require to have the carpet clean by a professional of your choice or they call one of their vendor and deduct from your deposit. hire one on your own, it's a lot cheaper! Also photo document everything before you move-in so you don't get charge for damages not cause by you when move-out.
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Old 02-09-2012, 08:09 AM
653 posts, read 864,456 times
Reputation: 408
If you returned the unit in like or better condition than acquired, I think you may have gotten burned too, although, most shady landlords will try to keep a part of the deposit. jaijai is right, unless your rental agreement stated these fees (great point!) - I'd assumed the OP had already checked that, but perhaps they didn't. Surely check your lease agreement.

I once painted a pink stairwell (that went up 2 stories, so it was not easy which is why the landlord said they'd left it pink, but wished it were cream). I was young, limber, and energetic, so I painted the stairwell cream to match the rest of the townhouse. Even the landlord said it looked SO much better when I was done.

Yet, when I moved out, since the landlord had already spent my security deposit and was having money issues, actually used my painting the stairwell as a reason to keep my money!

They later apologized and said what they did wasn't right, but I still never saw my money. I could have taken them to court, but it's so much hassle, and that's what I think the sketchy landlords are hoping.

And that's just ONE horror story. I'll spare you all the others.

Unfortunately, it sounds like you may have possibly found your own sketchy landlord. Now you just need to decide if it's worth your time to take them to court. :\

I do agree that you would benefit from a move-in checklist singed by both you AND the landlord, to prove the condition in which you acquired the property. That saved me when I had a landlord in LaJolla try to tell me I broke two of the doors and sliding glass door. I thank goodness for that move-in checklist! I'd also request receipts for the services they claimed they used your security deposit for.

Last edited by dclamb3; 02-09-2012 at 08:30 AM..
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Old 07-16-2015, 04:47 PM
1 posts, read 16,724 times
Reputation: 10
I have a tenant moving out for which I am doing the walk through for the landlord. The tenant has a 40 lb dog. I don't own a pet, but from what I understand there is no way to avoid a dog leaving behind dander and oils that will affect future tenants with allergies. My first tenant is actually highly allergic to pet dander, so I feel required to shampoo the carpet. Is it legal to deduct this from the tenant's deposit, since it is unavoidable for a pet to leave dander behind, and it wasn't that way before they moved in? Thank you...
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