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    Renting & Real Estate


    Can a landlord charge a non-refundable "Cleaning Fee"?

    I live in the city of Los Angeles, CA. I rented an apartment and during the lease agreement and deposits I learned the landlord charges a non-refundable "cleaning fee" to each tenant. I asked specifically if the charge still applies if I pay or clean the apartment upon move out. I was told it did not matter. That did not seem right to me, so I did some research but I am unclear. According to landlord-tenant law, the court recognizes ANY monies charged above the monthly rent as "security deposit." It does not matter that the landlord calls it "cleaning fee", "pet fee", "key fee", etc. So, from a legal stand point, the monies I paid are lumped into my security deposit. The law also says the landlord has to prove any security deposit withheld was used for whatever (typically in an itemized letter with reciepts). Finally, any "cleaning" charged must only be to get to apartment up to the condition prior to move in. So, I think if I pay or clean the apartment myself at least to the condition it was in, the non-refundable fee is illegal. Do you agree with this logic, or have you had other experiences?
    2 months ago 8 Answers

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    I would've carefully read the rental agreement when you first moved in (not to sound harsh or anything =). A lot of rental buildings have cleaning fees. As a tenant with experience in rental buildings, I prefer the cleaning fee cause I hate doing housekeeping and I'm too busy with the movers on the last day to care about cleanliness. This way, somebody else can worry about it, & i'm happy. You have 2 choices here: refuse to pay, then it will probably be deducted from your security deposit - fighting it will cost more than what it's worth. OR, you can move out without cleaning the place up (don't even take out the trash). I think the latter is your best bet. That's what I've done in the past. =) Edit: $200 fee sounds quite high to me. Some have mentioned it's for carpet cleaning. Is that what they charge in Beverly Hills? LOL ...still, seriously... You should READ the contract BEFORE you move in.
    a few seconds ago

    Other Answers

    • Absolutely legal. You know about it up front and make the choice to rent or not. Perfectly legal. Edit to Add: It wouldn't matter if it were a $500 deposite. If it were printed in the lease agreement, and you went through with the transaction anyway, you are still bound because the obligation the landlord has of informing you had been fulfilled I know this isn't what you wanted to hear, but it's honesty.

      by Steph - 14 hours ago

    • Are you referring to the Landlord Tenant Act? A landlord can legally charge what ever they want as long as it is in the lease and you are made aware of it before signing. If you signed the lease before you read it, you shouldn't have. Check w/ your state because where I am, after the first 6 months the landlord owes you the interest on your security deposit money. So maybe you can get some of that back! Good luck!

      by birdee - 14 hours ago

    • I agree with you but you will have to read the contract you signed.

      by deirdre - 14 hours ago

    • This is legal in CA, as are non-refundable pet fees, key fees, etc. I do not know what you read, but you are not interrupting it correctly. Also, the cleaning is applied after, not before move in. The landlord can not charge a tenant for cleaning something they did not have anything to do with. 200 will pay for professional carpet cleaning in LA, and that is about it.

      by Landlord - 14 hours ago

    • I had the same situation a couple years ago at my old apartment. It is a carpet cleaning fee and it is legal.

      by Meghan - 14 hours ago

    • The cleaning fee is probably for carpet steam cleaning, which is likely to have been done before you moved in. Either way, just pay this "cleaning fee" to your landlord. He or she probably has a discounted rate agreement with a steam cleaning agency, so he or she can get it done at a cheaper rate than you could were you to try to clean it yourself. Around $75 is reasonable.

      by MXS - 14 hours ago

    • I do not agree with your logic And what professional cleaning service do you know in LA that isn't going to charge you $200 to *thoroughly* clean the place when you leave? Cleaning the place before re renting it includes carpet cleaning, total scrubbing, etc. It is a lot of work. You know the fee up front. If you do not like it, do as the other poster said, and find a place that has a refundable cleaning fee, or none at all.

      by Genuine Guidance - 14 hours ago

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