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March 5, 2018 | by  | in Ask the Advocate Opinion |
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Ask the Advocate

Dear Erica,

We have just moved out of our old flat. Our property manager has told us that she will not be refunding all of our bond. She is deducting $200 to get the carpets professionally cleaned, and is charging us $175 for cleaning. We worked really hard to make the place clean at the end of our tenancy, but she has sent us a few photos (one is a photo of some hair in a drain, and another is of a dusty light bulb). There are 5 of us, so we would each only lose $75. Is it worth fighting this?

Sincerely, Anxious Mess

Dear Anxious Mess,

Yes. Please fight this. It seems to be quite common for landlords and property managers to charge cleaning costs to students – this might seem a small loss for each of you, but across the student population every year this cost must be enormous!

According to the Residential Tenancies Act, tenants must leave the property in a “reasonably clean and tidy condition”: this is quite subjective, but it sounds as though you did your best to clean up. As such, I think this is worth challenging the property manager. You shouldn’t need to be paying for the carpets to be professionally cleaned – you just need to vacuum, sweep and mop.

If I were you, I would email the Property Manager and explain you are all unhappy with the deduction, and that you believe you left the place in a reasonably clean and tidy condition, which is all that is required by law. If you feel a compromise is appropriate, you could concede some ground (e.g. say that you accept the cleaning costs, but are not prepared to pay for the carpets to be professionally cleaned). If they respond and tell you to get lost, then you could write back and say you are considering taking this matter to the Tenancy Tribunal.  They might rethink their position. If they don’t , you can file with the Tenancy Tribunal (if you do this it helps to have evidence such as photos and emails showing you have tried to resolve the issue).

Send in your problems to advocate@vuwsa.org.nz

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