Can a landlord make you pay for carpet cleaning at the end of a lease?
In short, no. Not in New South Wales. It is illegal to include a term in a lease for tenants to get professional steam cleaning for carpets – unless you have a pet. Routine cleaning must be paid for by the landlord if they want it, and payment for it cannot come out of the bond.
The only way a landlord has a right to use the security deposit for carpets is if they have “unusual damage”, like burns, holes and rips, large food and paint stains, or stains from pet urine.
Only pay for routine professional carpet cleaning if that is the standard you want to live with. It may make the prospect of a landlord attempting to charge you at the end of the lease less likely, too.
It is also a good idea to find out the age of the carpet in your rental. Carpet has an effective life of 8 years, meaning a carpet that is older cannot be depleted in value and should not incur any cost to a tenant, regardless of the type of damage.
It is important that tenants know their rights when it comes to the end of their lease. Sometimes fighting unreasonable demands for payment seems harder than just paying up, but it can save you a lot of money in the long run.
What is and is not expected in your tenancy agreement
If you have ever rented, it can be stressful keeping the property damage-free. Sometimes no matter how careful you are, or how often you clean, the house just won’t be the same as how you found it.
We all want to get our bond back. This security deposit paid at the start of the tenancy is held to ransom by the property manager at the final inspection. Real estate agents serve the landlord who obviously wants a clean slate for their next tenants.
To make sure you see most, if not all, of the bond back in your account, it is valuable to know just what is expected in the final condition report.
Rental properties can see a “reasonable” amount of wear and tear, meaning unavoidable or easy-to-fix damage is expected. The tenant moving out is not legally required to pay for replacing or fixing these things.
If a household fixture is past its lifespan, a tenant does not have to pay for any damages to it. To see the effective life of household items, check out the Australian Tax Office’s ruling on these.
The most unavoidable thing to wear out is carpet in a rental. Flat, thinning fibres and discolouration from dirt build up, even with regular vacuuming, is a given with carpet. You may be worried that this will affect your chances of getting the bond back, but don’t be too worried.