Carpet Cleaning

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General statutes guidelines for routine carpet cleaning in residential tenancies:

  1. Landlords may include language in a lease requiring tenants to pay for routine carpet cleaning. The reason for this is that routine carpet cleaning at the end of a tenancy does not fall within the scope of a landlord's responsibility to "keep the premises in a reasonable state of repair" per Wis. Stat. 704.07(2). Therefore, a lease that contains language that requires tenants to pay for routine carpet cleaning is still enforceable and valid. More information about why this is can be found here. A note in ATCP 134.06(3)(c) makes it clear that even though a landlord may write a lease saying the tenant has to pay for routine carpet cleaning, they may not automatically take the cost out of the security deposit. 
  2. Landlords may not deduct from a tenant's security deposit for routine carpet cleaning, even if: 
    • The lease requires that the tenant pay for carpet cleaning when they move out.
    • The lease states that the tenant must provide a receipt showing the carpets were cleaned.
    • The lease says that the tenant must pay for carpet cleaning when they move in.
    • The lease says the carpet cleaning cost will be deducted from the tenant's security deposit.
    • Any of the above rules are listed in a non-standard rental provision.
  3.  A landlord may not require a tenant to pay for carpet cleaning before moving out of the unit. Any payments in excess of the first month's rent are considered security deposits. ATCP 134.02(11)
  4.  A landlord may only withhold from a tenant's security deposit for carpet cleaning when there is "unusual damage" to the carpet caused by "tenant abuse." This language is clearly defined in ATCP 134.06(3)(c), which specifies that landlords may not deduct from tenants' security deposits for repairs needed due to "normal wear and tear." 

What to do if a landlord is unlawfully charging a tenant for routine carpet cleaning:

  1. Write a letter: The tenant can write a letter to the landlord to explain that the landlord cannot deduct money for routine carpet cleaning unless the tenant has damaged the carpet beyond "normal wear and tear." This is supported by ATCP 134.06(3)(c).
  2. File a written complaint with the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. 
  3. File in small claims court to recover the money in a security deposit that the landlord illegally withholds.