Can Landlord Keep Deposit for Cleaning

Property owners are often allowed to deduct cleaning charges from a security deposit under specific circumstances. Many states have laws that regulate how a landlord may use a security deposit. Some states require a landlord to return the security deposit within a specific time frame after the tenant leaves the rental unit. Deductions from the security deposit must be for actual damages. Normal wear and tear is generally not considered a valid reason to withhold a security deposit. It is important to consult with a local attorney to know more about a landlord’s rights and a tenant’s rights in security deposit deductions for cleaning charges.

When Can a Landlord Keep Your Deposit for Cleaning?

Landlords can deduct cleaning costs from a security deposit only if the cleaning is necessary to restore the rental unit to its original condition, less normal wear and tear. Examples of justifiable cleaning costs include:

  • Removing excessive dirt, dust, and grime
  • Cleaning carpets and upholstery
  • Cleaning ovens and refrigerators
  • Cleaning windows and mirrors
  • Removing cobwebs and cobwebs
  • Deodorizing the unit
  • Hiring a professional cleaning service

Landlords cannot deduct cleaning costs for damage caused by normal wear and tear, such as:

  • Faded paint
  • Worn carpets
  • Scratched floors
  • Minor dents in walls
  • Loose doorknobs
  • Leaking faucets

If you believe that your landlord has deducted unreasonable cleaning costs from your security deposit, you should contact your local housing authority or tenants’ rights organization.

How to Avoid Disputes Over Cleaning Costs

  • Clean the unit thoroughly before you move out.
  • Take photos of the unit before you move out to document its condition.
  • Check your lease agreement for specific cleaning requirements.
  • Contact your landlord immediately if you have any questions about cleaning.
Cleaning CostJustifiable?
Removing excessive dirt, dust, and grimeYes
Cleaning carpets and upholsteryYes
Cleaning ovens and refrigeratorsYes
Cleaning windows and mirrorsYes
Removing cobwebs and cobwebsYes
Deodorizing the unitYes
Hiring a professional cleaning serviceYes
Faded paintNo
Worn carpetsNo
Scratched floorsNo
Minor dents in wallsNo
Loose doorknobsNo
Leaking faucetsNo

Security Deposit: Cleaning Costs and Beyond

Moving out of a rental property? Understanding how security deposits work is key. While landlords can make deductions for cleaning costs, they must differentiate between regular wear and tear and damages caused by tenants. Let’s explore this topic.

Damage vs. Normal Wear and Tear

Normal Wear and Tear

  • Faded paint
  • Minor scuffs on walls
  • Dents on walls from hanging pictures or furniture
  • Carpet wear from regular use
  • Faded curtains or blinds

Examples of Damage

  • Holes in walls
  • Stains on carpets
  • Broken appliances
  • Missing or damaged fixtures
  • Unauthorized alterations

Landlord’s Responsibility

Landlords are responsible for:

  • General maintenance and repairs
  • Cleaning common areas
  • Replacing appliances and fixtures when they wear out

Tenant’s Responsibility

Tenants are responsible for:

  • Keeping the property clean
  • Making minor repairs, such as fixing leaky faucets
  • Reporting any damage to the landlord promptly
  • Returning the property in the same condition as when they moved in, minus normal wear and tear

Cleaning Costs

Landlords can deduct reasonable cleaning costs from the security deposit, but they cannot charge for:

  • Cleaning the property for the next tenant
  • Deep cleaning, such as shampooing carpets
  • Replacing items that have reached the end of their useful life

Resolving Disputes

If you have a dispute with your landlord over cleaning costs, try to resolve it amicably. If that doesn’t work, you can:

  • Contact your local housing authority
  • File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau
  • Take your landlord to small claims court
Deductions from Security Deposit
Cleaning CostsMust be reasonable and related to damage beyond normal wear and tear.
RepairsFor damage caused by the tenant that is beyond normal wear and tear.
Unpaid RentLandlord can deduct unpaid rent from the security deposit.

Presence of a Cleaning Clause in the Lease Agreement

The presence of a cleaning clause in the lease agreement is crucial when it comes to determining whether a landlord can keep the deposit for cleaning. If there is a specific clause that states the tenant’s responsibility to clean the property to a certain standard before vacating, the landlord may have the right to deduct cleaning costs from the deposit if the property is not left in the required condition.

Cleaning Clauses:

  • Usually outlines the cleaning requirements expected by the landlord upon the tenant’s move-out.
  • May include specific tasks such as carpet cleaning, oven cleaning, window cleaning, and overall tidying up.
  • Can vary from lease to lease, so careful review is essential.

Landlord’s Responsibilities:

  • Landlords are generally responsible for maintaining the property in a habitable condition, including routine cleaning and repairs.
  • They cannot withhold the deposit simply because the property needs cleaning at the end of the tenancy.
  • Normal wear and tear is expected and should not result in deposit deductions.

Tenant’s Responsibilities:

  • Tenants have a duty to keep the property clean and sanitary during their tenancy.
  • They are responsible for cleaning the property before vacating, even if the lease does not contain a specific cleaning clause.
  • This includes general cleaning tasks, such as sweeping, mopping, dusting, and removing all personal belongings.

Deposit Deductions:

  • Landlords can only deduct cleaning costs from the deposit if:
    • There is a cleaning clause in the lease agreement.
    • The property was not left in a reasonably clean condition.
    • The cleaning costs are reasonable and necessary.
  • Landlords must provide a detailed explanation of any cleaning deductions made from the deposit.
  • Tenants can dispute any unreasonable or excessive deductions.


  • If a tenant disagrees with the landlord’s cleaning deductions, they can file a complaint with the relevant housing authority.
  • The housing authority will investigate the complaint and determine if the deductions were reasonable.
  • Tenants may also be able to take legal action against the landlord if they believe the deductions were unlawful.
Summary of Key Points
Landlord’s ResponsibilitiesTenant’s Responsibilities
Routine CleaningYesNo
End-of-Tenancy CleaningNoYes
Deposit DeductionsAllowed only with cleaning clause and reasonable costsCan be disputed if unreasonable or excessive
DisputesCan be filed with housing authority or through legal action

State Laws and Regulations

Laws and regulations governing landlord’s ability to keep a security deposit for cleaning vary from state to state. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Landlords are generally allowed to keep a portion of the security deposit for cleaning, but the amount must be reasonable and proportional to the actual cost of cleaning.
  • Some states have specific laws limiting the amount a landlord can keep for cleaning. For example, in California, landlords can only withhold up to $125 for cleaning unless the tenant has caused excessive damage or dirt beyond normal wear and tear.
  • Landlords must provide an itemized list of cleaning charges and must give the tenant a reasonable opportunity to inspect the property before the deposit is forfeited.
  • Tenants should always clean the property thoroughly before moving out. This will help to minimize the amount that the landlord can withhold for cleaning.
State Laws Governing Security Deposits for Cleaning
StateMaximum Amount Landlord Can Withhold for CleaningAdditional Requirements
California$125Landlord must provide an itemized list of cleaning charges.
FloridaNo limitLandlord must provide a written statement of the cleaning charges.
IllinoisNo limitLandlord must give tenant a reasonable opportunity to inspect the property before the deposit is forfeited.
New YorkNo limitLandlord must provide an itemized list of cleaning charges and must give tenant a reasonable opportunity to inspect the property before the deposit is forfeited.
TexasNo limitLandlord must provide an itemized list of cleaning charges and must give tenant a reasonable opportunity to inspect the property before the deposit is forfeited.

Well, folks, that’s all we have for you today on the topic of “Can Landlord Keep Deposit for Cleaning?” I hope you found this article informative and helpful. Remember, every situation is different, so it’s always best to consult with a legal professional if you have any specific questions or concerns. Thanks for taking the time to read, and be sure to visit us again soon for more informative and engaging content. Until next time, keep your homes clean and your deposits safe!