Before we begin this article about the responsibility of landlords and tenants for cleaning carpets, it is important to state that Angel Carpet Cleaning is not a law office, nor is this information intended as legal advice. This is meant as a general resource to be used to seek out specific legal advice from experts who can legally advise on your circumstances.
That being said, as a carpet cleaning company in Redlands, we do have experience getting involved in these types of disputes. Hopefully, sharing our experience can help you to navigate the situation you find yourself in (or the situation you are looking to avoid).
Duties By Default
The basic default of cleaning responsibilities is that if it is considered normal wear, there is no onus on the tenant to incur costs for cleaning. Just as you are not responsible for cleaning door knobs that are dirtied with every turn, you are not responsible for the standard discoloration a carpet will get from being walked on.
Your security deposit exists to be a sum offered against unusual damage and abuse to the property by the tenant. If the carpet has been severely damaged as a result of the tenant, then the security deposit should be used to repair or clean the resulting stain/injury.
Looking At The Lease
In most cases of specific questions like whether or not landlords are responsible for carpet cleaning, the best resource is the lease you signed. This should outline all of the responsibilities of the various parties involved in the stewardship and maintenance of a particular property.
In some cases, a lease will outline charges and expectations for routine carpet cleaning. If this is something that is stated explicitly in your lease, it can be upheld as enforceable. There is nothing that makes this a request that invalidates the document, voids the contract, or otherwise makes the clause unenforceable.
Routine Carpet Cleaning vs Emergency Carpet Cleaning
No one is responsible for routine carpet cleaning by default, which is why lease agreements can be drafted that move this responsibility to the tenant. But if no one is given the responsibility, it remains the responsibility of whoever is requesting the service.
The exception to this rule is when the carpet cleaning is not routine and is instead an emergency. Emergency carpet cleaning is a distinction reserved for instances where the safety and or health of the tenants are placed at risk. In this case, the landlord is responsible for cleaning.
Risks can include the build-up of mold, fungus, and other especially unsanitary conditions. If your carpet is ripped or unkempt to where it poses a tripping risk, this might also warrant an emergency. But if this is only an aesthetic concern, the landlord is not obligated to perform any cleaning.
Move Out Carpet Cleaning
When you move out, you may run into the issue of a landlord claiming that the carpet has been harmed to such an extent that it is not standard wear. If this is the case, you will have to fight for your security deposit back or have the carpet cleaned yourself to avoid the lawsuit.
Other than that, refer to your lease for the outlined responsibilities of move-out cleaning. Some property companies have adopted a policy where the landlord will handle the carpet cleaning if the tenant has resided in the home for a year or more, with residents of less than a year responsible for their own cleaning costs.
In most cases, carpets will not be cleaned before you move out but rather by the landlord when they are trying to show the space to the next prospective renter. But it is always a good idea for someone to call a carpet cleaning service.