Must Carpets be Professionally Cleaned?

kylejustinJuly 7, 2006

I recently moved out of my apartment in Everett, WA. After renting a Rug Doctor and steam cleaning my carpets, my landlord informed me that the carpets must be professionally cleaned.

The Rug Doctor I used cleaned the carpets to like new condition and the carpets look immmaculate. My lease states, "Lessee shall clean and restore apartment to the condition it was in at commencement of this renancy prior to occupancy, less normal wear and tear." It doesn't say anything about professionally cleaning the carpets.

My landlord also said that the Health Code states that the water used to clean the carpet must be at least 200 degrees.

I returned my apartment in the same condition prior to occupany, less wear and tear by cleaning the carpets myself. Does my landlord have any justification for charging me to have the carpets professionally cleaned after I already did it myself? I didn't have to pay a security deposit, but I am being charged for carpet cleaning and they will send me to collections if I dont pay.

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moonshadow

This is getting into gray areas, IMHO. Your landlord, as a courtesy and to avoid confusion, should specifically state in the lease that professional carpet cleaning is required if he doesn't want the use of do-it-yourself cleaning machines. However, bacterias and molds can come into play and where it gets gray is the part about the health code and a clause that may or may not be in your lease. Commonly there is language in a lease that tenants will abide by local ordinances/rules of governing agencies (municipal codes, police agencies, board of health, etc.) Although your landlord doesn't specifically state that you must use a professional cleaning service, if your local health code does indeed have specific regulations regarding temperature when cleaning carpet cleaning with water, and your lease has a clause that you will follow ordinances of governing agencies, then technically you're bound to adhere to the local health code guidelines for cleaning carpet with water.

If their is no condition in your lease that states you will abide by codes of governing agencies, and/or there is no health code stating water temp guidelines, one would think it would be difficult for him to enforce the pro cleaning only rule.

You'll have to do a bit more checking. Keep your receipt for the rug doctor, take some dated photos of the carpeting if you haven't already, check your lease for a clause about abiding by codes and check with your local health department.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2006 at 8:58AM
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nfllifer

Very tough. In my state you would be fine doing it yourself. As a landlord I have it written into the lease carpets shall be profesionally cleaned and I require a reciept showing so at walkout. It also states using a rug Dr or other do it yourself device does not count as professional.

Bad deal is he can turn you over to collections without going to court. Then you have a lot of work to get that off your credit without paying. It can be done without paying him.

I would talk to a lawyer and have the lawyer send your landlord a letter stating due to the terms in your lease you have complied.

Keep me updated!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 11:16AM
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kylejustin

Just wanted to give you all some followup on this issue:

I wrote my apartment manager a letter stating that I believe I have complied with the requirements of my lease and Washington State Residential Landlord-Tenant Act.

I referenced the specific sections of the lease and WA state law.

I just received a letter from a collections agency for the debt. I am writing a dispute to the collections agency and hoping they choose not to persue it any further.

I'll let you know what I hear back from them.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 11:51PM
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nfllifer

Make sure you always write you collections agency. A phone call in many states doesn't consitute a dispute. Check with an attorney if possible to see if you need to send certified letters or exactly what you should do.

This is a really sad situation. Even if you were to pay, the landlord in most cases will only get half. Carpet cleaning in my area is around $120 for a 800 sq ft apt. I can't see it worth $60 to put someone in collections. Mke sure it stays off your credit. In the long run you will probably save the carpet cleaning bill in future lower interest rates.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2006 at 1:17AM
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kylejustin

I ended up writing a letter to the collection agency and sending it certified mail. I didn't hear anything back after a couple months so I called them today and they said that after receiving my letter they have decided not to continue to attempt to collect on the debt.

Glad this worked out in my favor...thanks for all the advice! Hope this helps someone else.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 1:12AM
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nfllifer

Thanks for the update!

    Bookmark   December 2, 2006 at 12:11AM
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mrs.olivares

I would make sure you request a letter from the collection agency stating they will not pursue with collections.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2006 at 3:21PM
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moonshadow

Yes, definitely get something in writing from the collection agency (they have a way of goobering up paper work). And be sure to check your credit now and then again in a few months (federal law now allows each individual one free credit report per year).

    Bookmark   December 10, 2006 at 9:03AM
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