Jul 31

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen Issues Formal Opinion Concerning Residential Lease Provisions Requiring Departing Tenants to Pay for Carpet Cleaning

MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen today issued an opinion to Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Ben Brancel in which Van Hollen concluded that Wisconsin law does not prohibit residential lease provisions that require a departing tenant to pay for routine carpet cleaning. Van Hollen determined that such a provision is not in conflict with a landlord’s statutory duty to maintain the premises “in a reasonable state of repair” under Wis. Stat. 704.07(2). Because routine carpet cleaning is not a statutorily-imposed obligation of a landlord, assigning this responsibility to a tenant through a contractual provision does not render a rental agreement void.

The full opinion letter is here:

www.doj.state.wi.us/sites/default/files/2013-news/oag-04-13.pdf

NOTE: This opinion does NOT permit the deduction of the carpet cleaning from a security deposit.

So then what  does this do for owners?

Very little to collect extra money from tenants.  However it forecloses tenants arguments that we had a common law duty to clean between tenants, i.e. cleaning is not part of a reasonable state of repairs.

I can also see this being used when DNS issues orders for housekeeping on the owner rather than the tenant.

It also clarifies you can have a lease that requires a tenant to clean when they move. You just have to bill them outside of the deposit.

Bottom line:  Personally I  never felt an across the board fee for carpet cleaning was anything more than a fee for moving out, which is probably a bad business practice even if it were legal.  Cost should be imposed on those tenants that do not leave the place reasonable well, while those that take care of the place should be treated in a manner they would rent from you again or tell their friends to do so.

3 Responses to “WI Attorney General on charging for carpet cleaning”

  1. Gile Tojek says:

    If the non-standard rental provisions state that the non-standard charges (such os carpet cleaning, itemized damage items or even cleaning) are considered as rent, why would you not be able to charge against the security deposit?

  2. Being in the cleaning sector I enjoy reading these posts very much.

    Keep up the goood work.

  3. Kit says:

    Terrific post however I was wondering if you could write a litte
    more on this subject? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more.
    Thank you!

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