UK: "Standard" deposit deductions for cleaning a newly-fit carpet?
October 31, 2013 9:34 AM   Subscribe

This is a UK question! I just left the UK along with my old rented flat. My landlord is suggesting some "standard" deductions for cleaning the carpets "because they were newly fitted just before checking in". Can they base this on anything?!

This is a UK question! I just left the UK permantently along with my old rented flat. My landlord is suggesting some "standard" deductions for cleaning the carpets "because they were newly fitted just before checking in". Can they base this on anything?!

About a month after moving out (but only about 5 days after the last day covered by the rent) I contacted the estate agent to ask about the deposit.

They got back to me saying there were deductions for X, Y, Z... I asked them for some clear reasons for these as I couldn't make them out from the check-in or check-out inventories.

After a bit of questioning, and waiting, they got back to say X was now not an issue (oops!).

I think potentially Y is reasonably justified by the actual condition of stuff on the report.

But Z is allegedly a deduction for specially cleaning the newly-fitted carpets...!!!! I can't find a mention of this "rule" in the tenancy agreement (assured shorthold), nor the 2 inventories, nor the letter they sent me before check-out.

It only popped up in writing in the final check-out inventory AFTER I'd moved out, and even then it was stated in a really contradictory way: "Professional cleaning charges can be applied as the carpet was new. Only domestic costs may be charged..."

Has anyone else (in the UK) encountered this? And it is worth asking for a clear reason (it says they must give reasons when asking for deductions in the contract)?

If we go to the stupid dispute stage will I get this amount Z back?

There IS in the check-out letter a very confused and contradictory reference to extra "professional cleaning" costs IF the apartment was cleaned professionally before you moved in, but no suggestion that this also applies when new carpets were laid "specially for you" (lucky thing!).
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (8 answers total)
Push back. Carpet cleaning between tenants is practically a requirement for landlords -- if you didn't have excessive staining and he can get away with a regular cleaning, then you absolutely shouldn't have to pay.

(this is not legal advice; by "shouldn't" I mean ethically)
posted by Etrigan at 9:36 AM on October 31, 2013

Where in the UK? There can be separate laws for each jurisdiction. I'm going to assume England so this link to CAB might be helpful. It would seem to suggest that unless your tenancy agreement specifically stated that a deduction would be made for carpet cleaning then they can't make it. But it would be worth speaking to an advisor in person.

As a tenant I've never come across this. I've also advised tenants and while I have heard of many ways landlords try to wriggle out of returning deposits this is a new one to me. And finally, I rent out a flat myself, and consider carpet cleaning before a new tenant/after an old one very much my expense in order to get the property ready to put back on the market. It's impossible to live in a place and not impact on carpets, so IANYL but I think they're chancing their arm.
posted by billiebee at 10:11 AM on October 31, 2013

I've had a tenancy agreement that specifically stated the landlord would professionally clean the flat after we moved out, so that was fine. I lived somewhere where the check-in inventory listed how dirty the flat was when we moved in, and they still tried to charge us for cleaning and carpet cleaning when we moved out - we pushed back and negotiated a much lower amount for cleaning.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:16 AM on October 31, 2013

Read your tenancy agreement as well. When I was renting in the UK I had a clause in my tenancy agreement that said the carpets had been cleaned pior to my moving in and that I had to clean them before moving out. I agreed with the landlord that they would do that and agreed how much of my deposit would be held back. The agreement may not speak to this and just talk about inventories and conditions on moving in and out. If the agreement is not explicit you should definitely push back if there are no stains or marks they can attribute to you. I hope you took photos moving in and out.

As a side note, I think some of the comments are a bit optimistic as to what landlords have to do between tenants. I am a UK landlord (with cream carpets in my let property) and my letting agency (and tenancy agreements) stipulate that flats are clean when handed over to a tenant and need to be clean when handing them back. We only get somebody in to clean between tenants, if the outgoing tenant doesn't clean enough and this is deducted from the deposit. But the carpets do not get cleaned as a matter of course between tenants.
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:27 AM on October 31, 2013

If it's not in your tenancy agreement and you haven't stained or soiled the carpets, push back. By law in England landlords must hold your deposit in escrow, which means that a dispute goes to mediation.

I haven't encountered this, but a certain type of multi-property landlord tries this kind of crap all the time. A full house carpet clean is about £200 professionally, so it's an easy way for a landlord to make £200 and not actually do anything.

Very basic advice here. The CAB (as above) can give you specifics. Generally landlords don't like taking things to mediation unless they have to because it costs them profit margin, whereas for you there is a) principle and b) a fighting chance of getting your money back. Cost of a 2hr mediation session is £100+VAT.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:37 AM on October 31, 2013

I've had this in about half my rented properties, all where there's some clause about leaving the property cleaned to a professional standard at the end of the tenancy (in most cases I've had the option of providing receipts showing I had had the carpets cleaned). Some tenancy agreements also specify that windows must be cleaned so be glad you avoided that one!
posted by kadia_a at 1:42 PM on October 31, 2013

I've had to either provide receipts for professional carpet cleaning or it's come out of the deposit in three flats I've had. Check your lease, if it's not included then definitely argue.
posted by goo at 4:18 PM on October 31, 2013

I have had this happen to me, but that was where the contract specifically stated that they expected the flat to be left at professional standard. If there was just an inventory list, and you've met it, then they are trying to take money off your deposit. A looot of agencies will try this. Push back. Is your deposit held by them or independently?
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:17 AM on November 1, 2013

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