Rental property carpet and inspections in Canberra?

By 17 October, 2013 24

So we’re living in a rental at the moment and we’ve just got a notice that we’ve failed our inspection and that there’ll be a re-inspection.

This is quite surprising as we’re generally fairly clean. In past inspections, we haven’t made any extra effort at all and things have been fine.

So we suspect that as we told them that we’re in the market to buy a house and probably won’t be extending our lease (which ends in a couple of months) that they’re being overly strict in case they need to claim some of our bond.

They’ve listed a bunch of minor stuff which I can address. They did list that the carpet needs cleaning. Now this is the bit that I’m not sure what I can do about.

We vacuum once a week but there are a few small marks and stains near the heavily trafficked areas like near the entrance which isn’t going to come out in a vacuum.

We need to professionally clean the carpet before we leave which we’re happy to do but I was wondering, if the marks don’t come out, can they charge us to replace all the carpet?

The carpet is fairly old – we’ve been there for 2 years, the previous renters (friends of ours) was there around 4-5 years, so at minimum it is 6-7 years old. Most likely, it’s probably never been changed (the unit I reckon is probably 20 years old).

It would seem fairly unfair to have to pay for a whole new set of carpet when the existing carpet was old. In addition to this, are there any other advice you can give to someone vacating a rental property to ensure we get most of our bond back?

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24 Responses to Rental property carpet and inspections in Canberra?
#1
davo1011:43 pm, 17 Oct 13
#2
thebrownstreak691:56 pm, 17 Oct 13

Start with a cheap can of carpet shampoo, if the stains come out the problem will probably go away.

You can always contact the Tenants Union. If something like this goes to the tribunal you’re unlikely to have a problem.

I’m a property investor, and I generally plan on replacing carpets every 10 years or so anyway.

#3
neanderthalsis2:03 pm, 17 Oct 13

Go to Bunnings and hire their carper cleaning machine for $30 a 1/2 day, it will remove most ground in dirt and minor stains, cheaper than a professional clean and just about as good.

#4
carpediem2:24 pm, 17 Oct 13

If there are only a few small marks and stains it sounds like fair wear and tear to me corny jim.

#5
zorro292:26 pm, 17 Oct 13

yeah that does seem a little weird….it’s not uncommon to get “issues to address” as a result of an inspection but a re-inspection seems strange if you’re legitimately pretty clean/tidy and have only fair wear/tear

i would argue against the need to carpet clean when you will have to turn around and do it again in a couple of months and just mention that’s the plan

but yeah a chat to the tenants union if they persist will help you out…

#6
Pantz_Party2:27 pm, 17 Oct 13

This sounds like it is normal wear and tear.

Adding to Davo101′s above comment, here is the specific answer; http://www.tenantsact.org.au/FAQRetrieve.aspx?ID=36384&Q=carpet

#7
A_Cog3:39 pm, 17 Oct 13

On a possibly-related note…

If / when you break your lease early (coz you’re looking to buy a home), just be aware that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A BREAK-LEASE FEE.

Further, if you ‘give notice of your intention to vacate’ (by sending them an email saying ‘hey, can we leave on XX date), and they accept it (by emailing back, “sure, blah blah blah), then you’re up for no costs.

The ‘break-lease fee’ is a common scam by ACT real estate agents. It’s so common, our conveyancer half-laughed about it when he warned us about this scam.

#8
zorro294:18 pm, 17 Oct 13

A_Cog said :

On a possibly-related note…

If / when you break your lease early (coz you’re looking to buy a home), just be aware that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A BREAK-LEASE FEE.

Further, if you ‘give notice of your intention to vacate’ (by sending them an email saying ‘hey, can we leave on XX date), and they accept it (by emailing back, “sure, blah blah blah), then you’re up for no costs.

The ‘break-lease fee’ is a common scam by ACT real estate agents. It’s so common, our conveyancer half-laughed about it when he warned us about this scam.

true that…i once broke a lease early and the place had a new tenant the next day (a tenant that i found) and no damage/wear/tear. when i left the RE agent agreed to return full bond etc and said at the final inspection “well that just leaves the end lease fee” (which was equiv to a week of rent…$330 at the time…which was a lot of money to me back in the day). i said, “no you can’t charge for ending a lease.”. she didn’t know what to do with herself and asked for the fee again. i refused again and nothing else came of it.

however, landlords are entitled to get from you: any readvertising costs and the rent between when you leave and a new tenant comes in (as long as they can demonstrate reasonable efforts to mitigate their damages)

but yeah, that annoyed me too….re-lease fee. they also tried to charge me for what the landlord had to pay in terms of paperwork etc for a new tenant…i was all like “uhhhh, no”

#9
Mysteryman4:30 pm, 17 Oct 13

It’s pretty common for rental leases to state that the tenant agrees to have the carpet cleaned before vacating the premises. Perhaps that’s why they mentioned it. Check the lease you signed.

It’s not likely that they will ask you to pay for replacement carpet. That comes under “wear and tear” and should be the responsibility of the landlord.

#10
Watson4:31 pm, 17 Oct 13

According to the Tenant’s Union landlords are not allowed to demand that you get the carpets cleaned during your lease unless that is specifically written into the lease contract.

Put it down to normal wear and tear and contest it if they make you pay for it.

#11
Madam Cholet4:50 pm, 17 Oct 13

Fair wear and take, unless the marks are unfortunate accidents left behind by a dog you are not meant to have !!

I would refuse the request to clean the carpet three months before leaving and as was pointed out, have to do it again when you vacate. Ask where this is in your lease agreement. They’ll prolly have trouble finding it. Or ask if this clean will be in lieu of the final one.

God RE people shit me.

#12
Woody Mann-Caruso5:13 pm, 17 Oct 13

1. The Residential Tenancies Act 1997 does not provide for ‘reinspections’. They get two inspections in any 12 month period, plus one within a month of commencing the tenancy, and one month before the end (s77 and s78).

2. Your bond cannot be withheld to repair damage that can be characterised as ‘fair wear and tear’ (s31(a)). Some marking of an older carpet in a high-traffic area is clearly wear and tear. Carpets do not last forever, and cannot be expected to remain pristine forever.

3. This is important because the agent may claim that they can give you a week’s notice and ‘re-inspect’ to examine the ‘repairs’ they’ve required under s82. This argument is bullsh*t, and you should laugh at it, because they can’t inspect ‘repairs’ you couldn’t be legally required to make in the first place.

4. You cannot be required to replace the carpet. First, you are only required to leave the premises ‘substantially’ as they were at the start of the lease, excepting fair wear and tear (s64). Second, a tenant cannot be required to “make alterations, improvements or renovations to the premises” (s65).

Source: our last agent before we bought a house tried this sh*t on (this, and trying to arbitrarily and repeatedly increase our rent to a level way above [CPI + 20%]), so we took them to the Tribunal, and they lost. Warning: they then gave us six months to quit the lease without cause.

#13
tommy8:22 pm, 17 Oct 13

Get some advice before lease end as to whether it is fair wear and tear. If you claim it and it’s turns out otherwise you can be liable for rent in the meantime plus repair. Also the rental agency can list you as a bad tenant.

My tips for renters is to get a receipt (a real one from a carpet cleaning place that includes he final report – normally they will say what the condition of he carpet is and any unshiftable stains) to prove the carpet was cleaned prior to your occupancy, take photos of everything and get the property manager to sign off on damage. Don’t move into a place with white carpet that is brand new.

#14
Shinigami_Josh10:06 pm, 17 Oct 13

carpet depreciates over a 7 year period (from memory), so you would be liable to pay nothing for it and if you want to be a prick (and have confirmed the carpets age), you can refuse to clean it at the end of the lease given it has a nil value.

#15
arescarti4210:33 pm, 17 Oct 13

Mysteryman said :

It’s pretty common for rental leases to state that the tenant agrees to have the carpet cleaned before vacating the premises. Perhaps that’s why they mentioned it. Check the lease you signed.

Watson said :

According to the Tenant’s Union landlords are not allowed to demand that you get the carpets cleaned during your lease unless that is specifically written into the lease contract.

They actually can’t even do that. As a tenant your only obligation is to leave the premises in substantially the same condition as when you moved in, minus fair wear and tear.

Yes, it’s pretty common for rental leases to include clauses stating that the tenant agrees to have the carpet cleaned before vacating the premises, and in most cases these clauses are completely and utterly unenforceable.

Part 2, Division 2.1 of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 states that additional terms to the standard tenancy agreement are void if they are inconsistent with the standard residential tenancy terms, and have not been endorsed by the ACAT. In most cases a carpet cleaning clause is inconsistent with the standard tenancy agreement, and so even if it’s in the lease you signed, it is void and can’t be enforced.

AFAIK the only occasions where this isn’t the case (it has been endorsed by the ACAT) is where the carpet was cleaned before you moved in (and the agent/landlord can provide a receipt to prove this) and possibly also where you had pets.

When I moved out of my last rental, I hired a carpet cleaner and cleaned the carpets myself as an act of good faith to the excellent landlord (It was a no pets, no kids, no indoor shoes household so the carpets were pristine anyway).

When I met with the leasing agent for the final inspection (which she was 30 minutes late to) she went totally nuts that I didn’t get them professionally cleaned, threatened to terminate the inspection and proceeded to go around the place making up reasons to fail the inspection, to the point where she noted a spare roll of toilet paper i’d left in the bathroom cupboard as an issue to be rectified (I’d left it there for the next tenant, as it’s a rotten thing to realise you don’t have when you’re half way through moving your stuff in).

Long story short they I got my bond back in full without having to go to the ACAT.

My advice to others is know your rights and don’t let shithead RE agents push you around.

#16
zorro299:34 am, 18 Oct 13

^^^ lol spare roll of toilet paper…how infuriating that inspection must have been. if you kept your cool, you are a patient person!

but i’ve heard some crackers on here (and experienced some) as well

#17
Madam Cholet9:56 am, 18 Oct 13

I was once chided by an RE agent for leaving small plastic inoffensive cockroach baits on the kitchen floor. My reasoning was that they would continue to provide assistance to one of Sydney’s worst problems in their absence of a tenant. Said RE person dragged me back to the unit for a second time (for what I don’t know), but forgot the keys and so had to call her little game quits and refund my bond at that point! This was the same agent who I had to advise that she was no longer able to inspect the unit as she and the owner had use up their 4 allowed visits in the space if 6 months.

The story there was that they were looking at renovating – a relatively modern, one bed, tiny kitchened apartment. Yeah, right!!! I was much younger then but it still makes me feel good to know that I won the day over a darstatdly agent!!

The first agent we rented from Canberra was great. Unfortunately they were sold to the agency across the street. And they were woeful. At inspection time the agent wanted me there and promptly engaged in an inspection which went on for over an hour. She tried to ping me on things, but again I won the day when I pointed out that a dangerous outdoor deck and leaking windows trumped her small bits of fluff on the bathroom floor. They still withheld the bond for two weeks before signing off. Arseholes. Mr Hooker I do not consider you the best.

Obviously some people are made to be RE agents.

#18
Mysteryman10:21 am, 18 Oct 13

arescarti42 said :

Mysteryman said :

It’s pretty common for rental leases to state that the tenant agrees to have the carpet cleaned before vacating the premises. Perhaps that’s why they mentioned it. Check the lease you signed.

Watson said :

…AFAIK the only occasions where this isn’t the case (it has been endorsed by the ACAT) is where the carpet was cleaned before you moved in (and the agent/landlord can provide a receipt to prove this) and possibly also where you had pets.

I’m yet to move into a rental property where the carpets were not cleaned before I moved in. In every case, they were cleaned before I arrived, and it was written into the lease that I would have them cleaned when I left.

#19
gentoopenguin10:23 am, 18 Oct 13

Our rental is immaculate to the point of OCD but our real estate agent insists on always picking up one thing to write in the inspection note comments. We guess she feels obliged so the landlord knows she is doing her job. In our latest inspection, the comment advised us to clean out the lint catcher in the dryer more regularly. I went and had a look and it had two bits of lint in it but nowhere near full.

The funny thing is, we’ve lived here for five years and have NEVER used the dryer because we have a clothes horse. The lint would have been from previous tenants. The RE Agent must have really thought herself really clever for thinking up a new tardy to put in the inspection notes haha. What a joke.

#20
zorro2910:33 am, 18 Oct 13

gentoopenguin said :

Our rental is immaculate to the point of OCD but our real estate agent insists on always picking up one thing to write in the inspection note comments. We guess she feels obliged so the landlord knows she is doing her job. In our latest inspection, the comment advised us to clean out the lint catcher in the dryer more regularly. I went and had a look and it had two bits of lint in it but nowhere near full.

The funny thing is, we’ve lived here for five years and have NEVER used the dryer because we have a clothes horse. The lint would have been from previous tenants. The RE Agent must have really thought herself really clever for thinking up a new tardy to put in the inspection notes haha. What a joke.

lol, “new tardy” indeed

reading some of these comments, i am pretty shocked at (what i would consider) an invasion of privacy in many cases

i am both a tenant and a landlord…so can see both sides here

however, in the stories mentioned here i really don’t think agents should be opening dryers etc (i didn’t think they were allowed to open cupboards etc at all). unless they have a safety concern (or there is damage), it should be a quick skirt around and then leave. what landlords want to know is that the property is being kept in good condition, they’re paying rent on time, and there is no damage or breaking of rental terms (like pets or something when they’re not meant to). this nitpicking is ludicrous

but let this be a lesson to you – don’t even think of being considerate of the next tenant by leaving toilet paper or roach baits so the place isn’t swarming with insects…

those power-hungry, mad-at-the-world type of agents are the worst

#21
jett1810:52 am, 18 Oct 13

The biggest lesson that I learnt when moving out of a rental property: You are only obliged to leave the property as you found it– that includes taking into consideration fair and natural wear and tear in high traffic areas on the property.

As far as total carpet replacement, no, they cannot take your bond for that unless the carpet is that far gone that it has rips etc in it that you have contributed to. The most they can do is charge your for cleaning– which you would have already done upon exit.

After you notify the RE that you are vacating, they should give you an exit pack that contains preferred cleaners / trades people– use these, because if anything comes back to you regarding state of carpet etc you can let the RE know that you have used their preferred cleaners and they should take the matter up with them.

Best advice, know your rights and do not be scared to challenge them on anything that they bring up that seems to be unreasonable or out of the ordinary.

There are many RE’s in Canberra who will try and take you for a ride because they assume that you do not know your rights or are banking on you giving up rather than going through tribunal.
Showing that you have a little knowledge goes a long way.

Good Luck.

#22
Buckaroo_Banzai12:04 pm, 18 Oct 13

Also, lodge the bond refund form for the full amount with the office of rental bonds yourself. Do it before the agent does. Then it’s up to them to prove their case if they want to hold back bond, not the other way around. They might claim only they can lodge the form, but that’s bollocks.

#23
khepri12:22 pm, 18 Oct 13

Buckaroo_Banzai said :

Also, lodge the bond refund form for the full amount with the office of rental bonds yourself. Do it before the agent does. Then it’s up to them to prove their case if they want to hold back bond, not the other way around. They might claim only they can lodge the form, but that’s bollocks.

Echo this point, we had a massive fight with our last agent (after having been on very good terms for the duration of the tenancy) over the carpet.
The tenants advice line were excellent, and highlighted that carpets over 7 years (from memory) old are considered too old to request any repairs as the owner should have replaced them.

They also tried to sting us for cleaning up after work that had been done by tradies after we moved out! Ironically they work they carried out was to fix a leaky roof which we had to manually empty every single day was work we were chasing them up for 10 months!

I always find it funny that Rental agents can be so rude to renters, especially those who are leaving to buy a home. I now have two agencies I will most certainly not be using when I choose to rent out my home in the future. In many cases they aren’t even representing the owner’s wishes, just trying to crawl as much money in as possible. When I saw the signiture block of the person I was dealing with last time as end-of-lease manager I knew we’d be in for some ‘fun’ times.

#24
miz8:00 am, 19 Oct 13

Mysteryman summed it up at #9. They usually want to see the receipt as evidence of the carpet cleaning. And another tip: make sure you clean the light fittings. My sister lost a bond once over a few insects in the light fittings.

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