Tenants expect that a landlord will have throughly cleaned and prepped their apartment prior to the scheduled move-in day. This includes cleaning of fixtures and the existing carpeting throughout the apartment.
When it comes time that the tenant vacates the apartment, there are some landlords who are unclear about who is actually responsible for the carpet cleaning. A well written lease should clearly indicate that exiting tenants must leave an apartment broom clean and as it was delivered to them at the start of their lease term. Any normal wear and tear on the apartment is taken into account.
The question that frequently arises is if a landlord can charge the tenants for a carpet cleaning upon their move-out. It would likely be a deduction taken from the tenant's security if the landlord decided to pursue this course of action. A landlord, however, should not attempt to charge his or her tenant for any portion of a routine carpet cleaning. The reasoning is that the cleaning of the carpet is a standard procedure when an apartment is made ready for the next tenant. It is the landlord's responsibility to cover the cost of carpet cleaning in most situations, and their are laws in place that protect the tenant in these types of matters.
In cases where one of the partys have taken the other to court regarding a contested reduction of the security deposit refunds, it has been generally determined that this is deemed a part of the expected amount of wear and tear. That then becomes a cost that is paid for by the landlord and not the tenant in accordance with the lease agreement. Landlords should be aware of the laws in their own state regarding withholding money from their tenant's deposit. Some of the states do not permit a landlord to deduct funds for the costs of basic apartment and carpet clean-up.
That said, in the event that the carpet is very dirty or has been damaged by the tenant, the opposite holds true. A landlord is permitted in such cases to charge the tenant for the carpet cleaning, and they may deduct the cost from the security.
There can be instances where tenant negligence or abuse has severely damaged the carpeting, such as stains resulting from oil, grease, or paint. This also would apply to excessive pet stains on the carpet. It becomes what is known as unusual damage when routine cleaning is not enough, and the landlord has to have the carpeting professionally cleaned.
It is in everyone's best interest that photos be taken of the damaged property for evidence later on if needed. The landlord of a rental apartment should also take the time to learn and understand the state regulations regarding security deposits and guide their actions accordingly.