Dealing with ‘end of tenancy cleaning’ can be an excruciating experience, for both landlords and tenants. We feel your pain, and we are with you!
So, if it’s any consolation, don’t feel alone. Thousands of landlords are suffering with you, whilst many tenants simply need some guidance and are not sure what to do.
Quick fact: Tenants’ vacating a rented property without cleaning effectively is one of the main reasons for deposit reductions, and a definite cause of burning a long and healthy relationship to the ground… a few steps before crossing the finish line.
Tenant’s responsibility to clean during the tenancy.
When any landlord rents their property to any tenant, it becomes their home for the duration of the tenancy. This means the tenant can truly choose how to live and there is nothing the landlord can do about it.
However, the landlord is definitely entitled to make suggestions and recommendations if anything of caution crops up during a routine property inspection, like over-spilling bins, or mould growing due to condensation as tenant never runs the extractor fan, or slime on the bathroom tiles and taps causing damage. Remember, regular inspections are crucial, so make sure they happen.
More importantly, if the tenant has created an unsafe environment which raises genuine concern over health and safety, then landlord has legal rights to take action (i.e. there might be grounds for eviction).
The big question: what condition should a tenant leave the property in?
In most situations, the tenant has an obligation to return the property in the same condition they received it in, minus damages caused by wear and tear.
There is usually a visible difference between cleanliness and wear and tear; while an item can be worn and aged, it can still be cleaned.
The situation is as simple as that, and our experience would be that most tenants usually don’t cause any problems; they leave the property in an acceptable condition.
Unfortunately, we have experienced situations when Landlords ask for our help (as they never used a Property Manager or Letting Agent during the tenancy) as the tenant is disputing deposit deductions for cleaning as their agreement never clarified the end of tenancy cleanliness, and it was never discussed before the end of tenancy.
There’s a “Professional cleaning” clause in the tenancy agreement
Many tenancy agreements are riddled with clauses which state the tenant must professionally clean the property at the end of the tenancy.
Since the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act 2019, it has been illegal for landlords or letting agents in England to charge tenants with professional cleaning services.
However, we recommend clauses outlining that the tenant is responsible for a professional clean, as in:
“If the property has been professionally cleaned at the start of the tenancy, it has to be returned in the same condition at the end of the tenancy (please do refer to the inventory check in / check out report).”
Can I use my tenant’s deposit to pay for cleaning services?
While landlords can’t charge for tenancy cleaning services contractually, we can still use the deposit to cover any legitimate costs associated with getting the property back to the condition it was at the start of the tenancy assuming the tenant doesn’t, which is what the example clause above is all about.
Cleaning charges are the most common reason for deposit deductions, and covering those costs is exactly the kind of thing the deposit was designed for.
If the tenant fails to return the property in the condition that they received it in, the deposit can be used to clean the property, which may include hiring the professionals.
However, before attempting to dip into the deposit, it’s always best to flag any issues with the tenant first, so they have the opportunity to resolve it for themselves. Any problems should be highlighted and shared during the final inspection. Don’t return the deposit until the property is returned to you in the appropriate condition.
In order to make a valid claim to use the deposit to cover cleaning costs [or any other claim for that matter], you will need to prove what the condition of the property was when your tenants moved in, to the tenancy deposit scheme the deposit is secured with. They will then assess your case and make a final decision on the validity of your claim and how much of the deposit you’re entitled to. We always recommend tenants and landlords to follow their Check-in reports, and ensure they return the property in the same condition as received. Usually, your Landlord would use the same Clerk to complete the Check-in and Check-out report, and so the reports will be parallel if the property has truly been returned in the same condition. Otherwise, you will see differences in each report.
In a lot of cases, tenants have just cleaned the property themselves, doing the best they can. However, you can definitely tell the difference – there’s no substitute for a professional cleaning service. Please note
Carpet cleaning: typically, carpet cleaning isn’t included in standard “end of tenancy” cleaning packages, it’s an extra service, so needs to be mentioned
Here are a few points/thoughts to consider:
You would be amazed at how incredible carpets look after a professional scrub; clean carpets can completely transform a property from ‘dingy’ to ‘inviting’.
If needed, it’s definitely worth splashing out on a carpet cleaning service – whether you’re a tenant or landlord – especially at the end of the tenancy. Clean carpets will help landlords to impress prospective tenants during viewings, and help tenants recoup their deposit.
Carpets, by nature, are usually one of the biggest victims of wear and tear. So before splashing out on a carpet cleaning service, determine whether it makes more sense to completely replace the carpets or clean them.
As mentioned, tenants are expected to return the property in the same condition as they received it (minus wear and tear), so if the carpets were clean at the start of the tenancy, they should be returned just as clean.
Don’t forget windows too. We usually tell tenants that they are responsible for cleaning the windows inside the property, including window frames and sills. If the property is on the ground floor, they can also clean them externally.
The problem arises if the property is on the upper floors? How on earth is a tenant supposed to clean there?
We ask our landlords to pay for professionals to clean exterior windows above the ground floor, it makes sense and it’s not expensive and really makes a difference for new tenants moving in.
Get the professionals in
We always recommend a professional “end of tenancy” clean as most companies usually have some guarantee in place to clean the property to a certain standard of professional cleaning, especially considering appliances like your oven, dishwasher, fridge and washing machine – not to mention the bathroom chores. You would think that any professional cleaning service should be able to do the same job, but you would be surprised at the huge difference between a general Cleaner and an End of Tenancy clean
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