End of tenancy cleaning

Cleaning Nightmares

Recently I heard a story about a lady who had moved into a rented house in the local area. The agent had made the tenant aware that the house had been professionally cleaned, and that any cleaning necessary at the end of the tenancy would be the responsibility of the tenant. Imagine the shock of the tenant when she found on her moving in day that the cleaning was, at best, skin deep. She shared pictures of dirt under cabinets, a dirty shower with limescale, and filthy floors.

After the aggrieved tenant sought advice on a community forum, many were shocked and were keen to know the agents name, which was provided along with a copy of the brusque email response to her complaint about the dirty house. A flurry of similar stories surfaced where departing tenants had been heavily penalised for cleaning costs, many by the agent mentioned.

Our policy at Hawk & Chadwick is to recommend that Landlords opt for a professional standard of cleaning from the start of the tenancy and encourage tenants to do the same. We don’t tie Landlords or tenants into a favoured company to make an extra fee – and it’s the same with all of our contractors. We want to keep things fair and honest and source the best quality at the best price – we leave the ultimate choice in the hands of the tenant or Landlord.

But I can trust my Letting Agent….right?

Not all companies operate quite so ethically, and many will make ‘kickers’ on cleaning fees, handymen, boiler repairs, EPC’s and other services to boost their fees. If these costs are disclosed upfront and agents are honest about them, that’s not a problem, but it can lead to poor quality at inflated prices, locking more competitive contractors out, and ultimately could create disagreements between Landlords and Tenants over the deposit at the end of the tenancy, particularly in the case of cleaning.

Having said that however, even the deposit schemes who tend to be the arbiter of justice in many deposit disputes, state that the quality of a ‘professional clean’ is largely subjective and offer guidance that using a reputable local company is the best option for both parties.

Hmm…good points, so what should we do?

The final important point to note, is the burden of proof. In the example above, the tenant may have been found liable for the cost of the cleaning if she didn’t raise it immediately on moving in – but if no inventory was carried out, that’ll be egg on the landlords face when they try to claim from the deposit – the deposit schemes will ask “Can you prove it was/wasn’t like that at the start of the tenancy?” – and an inventory document is the only way to do this.

If tenants and Landlords agree to record the property condition, each accept responsibility to make sure it’s professionally cleaned before providing it to the other party, and last but not least avoid agents who sacrifice choice and quality to inflate their bottom line, the world of Lettings will become a more peaceful place.