So you’ve packed up, you’re ready to move out, and you’re just waiting to get your bond back. But then a call comes from your landlord telling you that you haven’t steam-cleaned the carpets. And, quite frankly, it’s the last thing you could be bothered with right now.
Cleaning, especially carpet cleaning is often a source of confusion among tenants and landlords, with tenants claiming it’s the landlord’s responsibility and vice versa.
In fact, the laws in each state don’t differ from each other that much. In the majority of circumstances, you are not expected to have carpets steam cleaned. However, there may be clauses included in a tenancy agreement that state otherwise.
If you want to avoid this scenario, you should familiarise yourself with tenancy laws in your state.
In Queensland, carpet cleaning and pest control are not considered standard items in a tenancy agreement. However, the landlord can include that carpets must be maintained to the same standard they were at the beginning of the tenancy.
They may also include carpet cleaning as pest control if you were allowed to keep pets in the property.
In Queensland, you need to be aware of your cleaning obligations at the start of the tenancy.
If you live in New South Wales, you’re lucky. Here the law is clear. According to the Residential Tenancies Act 2010, there must not be a term that states ‘that the tenant must have the carpet professionally cleaned, or pay the cost of such cleaning, at the end of the tenancy.’ However, if you agreed to have the carpets professionally cleaned at the beginning of your lease, as a condition of keeping animals there, carpet cleaning is your responsibility.
You’ll need to check your original lease to see whether such a term was included, but essentially if there’s nothing in the lease about carpet cleaning, then you’re off the hook.
The Australian Capital Territory is another state that doesn’t enforce laws about steam cleaning. The law here states that a property, including its carpets, only need to be ‘reasonably clean’ when handed over at the end of a tenancy. Stains should be removed with normal stain remover products, and regular vacuuming is considered appropriate.
If stains are caused by landlord neglect, such as failure to fix a leaking roof, there is also no obligation for the tenant to fix it, provided you have notified the landlord about it prior to the end of your tenancy.
According to the Victorian Residential Tenancies Act 1997, a property must be left ‘reasonably clean’ at the end of the tenancy. In many cases, this could mean that normal cleaning is all that is required.
But if a landlord or agent had carpets professionally cleaned when you moved in, according to some tenants’ unions, you will need to maintain the same standard, (i.e. you will also need to get them professionally cleaned).
For the most part, laws in Tasmania are the same as the other states, meaning professional carpet cleaning is not considered a standard tenancy lease term. If carpets are to be cleaned when a tenancy agreement ends, it must be written into the agreement before the tenancy period starts. However, Tasmania differs slightly from other states in one regard: the tenant must provide proof that a professional cleaning machine has been hired. Hiring a professional to do it is only necessary if this was done before the tenant moved in.
In South Australia, the law is similar to that of Victoria. It states that the property must be handed back to the landlord in ‘reasonable condition and in a reasonable state of cleanliness’. This means that if regular cleaning would restore the carpets to a reasonable condition, there is no need for steam cleaning.
Western Australia is covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 1987. According to this Act, at the end of tenancy period, a property – including its carpets – needs to be reasonably clean with regard to the condition of the property at the beginning of the lease, while taking into account fair wear and tear.
Including a clause stating you must get carpets professionally cleaned is therefore invalid.
According to the Northern Territory’s Residential Tenancies Act 1999, there is nothing that requires a tenant to steam clean carpets. Laws in the territory are much like the other states, meaning there are allowances for reasonable wear and tear.
So when it comes to carpet cleaning, the law in all states seems to be on the tenant’s side. However, there’s nothing stopping you from doing it as an act of goodwill for a landlord you have had a good relationship with. It’s always best to leave a property on a good note, and get a good reference for your next place.