When can landlords charge carpet cleaning fee?

Q: My elderly mother has lived in a rental townhome in Fairmont, Minn., for 17 years. Amazingly, the carpet is in very good condition as it’s Berber and very tough. The lease states they will deduct $155 for carpet cleaning.Isn’t a carpet fully depreciated by that length of time? Therefore, isn’t it unethical for them to charge to clean the carpet? I feel like the company will charge the cleaning fee, then change the carpet for a new tenant anyway. Also, she purchased blinds for the picture window and all the other windows. What happens there?

A: Landlords in Minnesota must return all or part of the security deposit within 21 days, withholding only amounts reasonably necessary to cover past rent or other money owed to the landlord, or to restore the rental to its condition at the start of the lease excluding ordinary wear and tear.

If the landlord is keeping all or part of the security deposit, they must include a letter with an itemized list of damages and replacement costs. Landlords may not charge nonrefundable deposits such as an automatic carpet cleaning charge with an automatic deduction taken from the security deposit once the tenant moves out.

However, it is acceptable to charge a carpet cleaning fee or administrative fee if the tenant is told about it, such as in their lease and in any advertising. It is considered a good practice for landlords to let tenants know potential cleaning charges upfront, and since the carpet cleaning fee was written into your mother’s lease, then she was made aware of it.

Berber carpet does hold up well over time, and since you stated the carpet was in “very good condition” the landlord may not be replacing the carpet, but just cleaning it for the next tenant. After 17 years the carpet would most likely be fully depreciated, so they shouldn’t be charging your mother to replace the carpet. However, if they do clean the carpet and incur this fee, then most courts would consider that a valid expense for a landlord to charge against the security deposit.

You and your mother can protest this charge and sue in conciliation court, but I can’t predict that you will definitely win. Open communication with your mother’s landlord is the best way to proceed. After 17 years there could be a new landlord or maintenance staff that doesn’t know your mother purchased her own blinds for the apartment.

Kelly Klein is a Minneapolis attorney. Participation in this column does not create an attorney/client relationship with Klein. Do not rely on advice in this column for legal opinions. Consult an attorney regarding your particular issues. E-mail renting questions to [email protected], or write to Kelly Klein c/o Star Tribune, 650 3rd Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488. Information provided by readers is not confidential.

rn% endblock %","start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/limit-signup-optimizely/start"},{"id":"limit-signup","count":12,"action":"ignore","mute":true,"action_config":"template":"% extends "grid" %rnrn% block heading_text %Youu2019ve read your 10 free articles for this 30 day period. Sign up now for local coverage you wonu2019t find anywhere else, special sections and your favorite columnists. StarTribune puts Minnesota and the world right at your fingertips. % endblock %rnrn% block last %rn parent() rn# limit Krux pixel from https://www.squishlist.com/strib/customshop/328/ #rnrnrn% endblock %","start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/limit-signup/start"},"id":"meter-desktop-331","count":10,"action":"ignore","mute":false,"action_config":false,"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/meter-desktop-331/start","id":"PDA991499opt","count":9,"action":"ignore","mute":true,"action_config":false,"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/PDA991499opt/start","id":"limit","count":8,"action":"inject","mute":false,"action_config":"template":"

rnrnrnrn

rn

rn

rn rn

rn t

rn SUBSCRIBErn Already a subscriber? Log in.rn

rn

All Star Tribune readers without a Digital Access subscription are given a limited number of complimentary articles every 30 days. Once the article limit is reached we ask readers to purchase a subscription including Digital Access to continue reading. Digital Access is included in all multi-day paper home delivery, Sunday + Digital, and Premium Digital Access subscriptions. After the 1 month Premium Digital Access introductory period you will be charged at a rate of $14.99 per month. You can see all subscription options or login to an existing subscription herern

rn rn

rn

rn

rn

rn

rn","start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/limit/start"},{"id":"nag","count":7,"action":"lightbox","mute":true,"action_config":{"height":null,"width":"630px","redirect_on_close":null,"template":"% extends "shell" %rnrn% block substyles %rn

rn% endblock %rnrn% block page %rn#rnrn limit - count - 1 rnrn form.flow_form_open(nextAction: 'firstSlide', null, null, '_top') rn form.btn('Save Now') rn form.flow_form_close() rnrn

rnrnrnu2022 rnrnrnrn#rn

rn

rn

You have limit - count - 1 articles left

rn

rn rn u00a0u00a0u2022u00a0u00a0rn rn

rn

rn

rn

rn Save More Todayrn

Over 70% off!

rn

rn

rn

rn

99u00a2 for first 4 weeks

rn form.flow_form_open(nextAction: 'firstSlide', null, null, '_top') rn form.button('Save Now', 'btn nag-btn') rn form.flow_form_close() rn

rn

rn% endblock %rnrn% block last %rn parent() rnrn% endblock %"},"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/nag/start"},"id":"x","count":4,"action":"ignore","mute":true,"action_config":false,"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/x/start","id":"multi-start","count":3,"action":"fly_in","mute":true,"action_config":"location":"bottom_left","slide_direction":"bottom","group_id":null,"display_delay":"0","collapse_delay":"10","template":"

rn

rn

rn

rn u00d7rn

rn

rn

From just

rn

$3.79 99u00a2 a week

rn Save nowrn

rn

rn

","start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/multi-start/start"]};

Barbara G. Arnold

Next Post

Labor Day furniture sales: where to find the best early deals

Sun Sep 5 , 2021
Labor Day furniture sales are already underway at a number of stores, with many retailers going live early with this year’s offers. The official sales land on September 6, but you can already find considerable discounts on various fixtures, fittings and more for the inside and outside of your home. […]