Unless you spilled all over it repeatedly, stained it, had bad pets or otherwise did something “unusual” to it! From the Tenant Resource Center . . .
Moving Day MYTH BUSTERS: Carpet Cleaning & Painting
Carpet cleaning and painting is one of the most common and expensive security deposit deductions. Tenants should know their rights to avoid being charged hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars without good reason.
MYTH #1: Landlords are required to do “routine” painting and carpet cleaning/carpet replacement in between tenants, or after a certain number of years.
BUSTED: Wrong! Unless they made some other promise in writing, the only time landlords can be required to deal with painting or carpet cleaning is when there is a health and safety hazard such as lead paint, a tripping hazard, or a serious mold problem. (TIP: Tenants who want the place to look nicer should negotiate with their landlord for permission to do it themselves, and might even work out a reimbursement for their time and materials.)
MYTH #2: Landlords can charge tenants for the cost of painting, carpet cleaning, and carpet replacement.
BUSTED: Not necessarily! Consumer Protection and the Madison General Ordinances say that tenants cannot be charged for routine painting or carpet cleaning. They can only be charged for damages resulting from “unusual abuse” to the paint or the carpets which goes beyond “normal wear and tear.” Even then, they can only charge for actual costs and can be required to account for depreciation. If the landlord paints the whole room or replaces all the carpet, they can be required to show that a less expensive repair was not enough.
MYTH #3: If a tenant signed a lease agreeing to pay for certain costs, there is nothing they can do about it.
BUSTED: Tenants cannot waive these rights! According to the statutes, landlords cannot charge for routine painting, cleaning, or carpet replacement – NO MATTER WHAT! Putting this in the lease could even work against the landlord in small claims court, since a judge might decide that requiring it for everyone makes it “routine” and thus illegal. Even if cleaning, painting, or carpet replacement is necessary due to tenant damage, landlords can only charge for actual costs, accounting for depreciation. Madison landlords are required to provide estimates and receipts along with their itemized list of deductions. This list and/or the security deposit return is due back to the tenant within 21 days of their lease ending.
FAQ: What do I do if my landlord charges me for painting or carpet cleaning anyway?
ANSWER: Write to the landlord asking for the amount you think is fair and give a reasonable deadline. Tell them you are prepared to sue them for DOUBLE the wrongfully withheld amount plus court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. Tenant Resource Center has a sample letter in our offices and on our website.
QUESTIONS? WE HAVE EXTRA HOURS THIS WEEK! Find us the Central Park Sessions on 8/14,
Schenk Corners Block Party & AfricaFest at Warner Park on 8/16, and Triangle Ethnic Fest at Braxton Terrace on 8/17!
FOR FORMS, SAMPLE LETTERS, AND MORE INFORMATION – Website: www.tenantresourcecenter.org | Phone: (608) 257-0006 Walk-in Counseling: (MAIN OFFICE) 1202 Williamson Street Ste. 102 (Mon – Fri, 9 – 6) (UW CAMPUS OFFICE) 3rd Floor, Student Activity Center, 333 E. Campus Mall (Mon 12-5 & Thur 9-3)
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