Turn the light off as you leave…and make sure the property is clean

When someone moves into a flat or house, the likelihood (but not guaranteed) is that the carpets,  floors and overall property are pristine – cleaned to within an inch of it’s life, or as the correct term would be ‘cleaned to a professional standard’.

The question – who is responsible for the home looking like this for the next tenant?

Cleaning disputes still top the list of disputes between landlord and tenant. According to one of the government deposits schemes 50% of deposit disputes related to cleaning  in 2022 in the UK and 71% in Scotland.

All available evidence suggests that such disputes can be avoided if the correct evidence is provided at the start and end of the tenancy.

But lets examine how to avoid the cleaning issue.

It is the outgoing tenant who must leave the home in the standard they found it. The law allows for a reasonable amount of wear and tear of carpets when the tenant does leave, however betterment cannot apply.

We also encourage the landlord to have written evidence of what condition the property was in when the tenant moved in, supported by photographic proof.

Finally, both the tenant and landlord should conduct full inventories at the start of the tenancies and make sure they align.

Recent changes

Laws have been changed to make sure landlords can NOT make a standard charge against tenants for cleaning services or fees. This is reflected in the Tenant Fee Ban which came into force in 2019.

However, that doesn’t mean, as a landlord, you can’t use the deposit to pay for cleaning if the tenant has left the property in a condition that doesn’t meet the criteria of ‘same as you found it.’

As the tenant, it is and always has been their responsibility to leave the property in either the condition they found it or the condition specified in the inventory with an allowance made for fair wear and tear. Cleaning issues, however, are not considered fair wear and tear.

The difference can seem miniscule to some but it can end up being the sort of thing that rumbles on.

If the inventory states the property was cleaned to a professional standard on check in, then it requires the property to be ‘professionally cleaned to the same standard’ on the tenant’s departure, which often means hiring a company to perform the task.

Many tenants believe it possible to clean to a professional standard themselves but unfortunately any experienced inventory clerk will tell you they will gladly take a pound for every time they have heard ‘I’ve cleaned it better than when I moved in’ which is rarely the case

A tenant is able to clean the property themselves, as long as it meets the same professional standard at check in.  Often tenants try to do this but miss areas that professional cleaners will clean as a matter of course which can lead to deposit deductions.

Our recommendation to the tenant is to have the cleaning done as the last thing before vacating the property. And then to make sure they have photographic evidence of the condition of the cleaning as they leave.

The landlord does not have the right to tell the tenant what company to use when it comes to cleaning the property. But having it done professionally, while potentially expensive, should ensure that the tenant receives their full deposit back.

As an agent or landlord, you should want to protect your investments and establish smooth transitions from one tenant to the next. We are dedicated to promoting the highest possible standards of accuracy and reliability in the inventory process and have been endorsing high levels of professionalism in the inventory business since 1996.

It is our mission to ensure proper information and training is provided and our bank of highly skilled members will provide the best possible service. For more information, please contact us or search for your local AIIC member clerk now.

You can also download a copy of our Code of Practice and Guidelines for Professional Practice guide here.

Published on 02/02/2023