Why Clean the Property after Your Tenancy Ends
You are ready to move out and to a new place and your tenancy agreement is soon to come to an end. But while you are busy moving furniture and organizing your new home, there is plenty to tick off the list before you move out. One of the main things to do is clean your rental to get your deposit back. To help you figure out how to go about it, here is a brief guide to cleaning your home to hand it over to your letting agent or landlord.
Why Clean the Property?
The main reasons it is worth taking the effort to clean are to get good references and avoid disputes.
The level of cleanliness is a major reason behind disputes with landlords. Data by the Tenancy Dispute Scheme shows that more than 52 percent of disputes concern cleaning, followed by gardening, rent arrears, decoration, and damage. Why cleaning is a common cause is because describing a property as clean is always subjective. What a tenant considers spotless clean may vary considerably from what meets the requirements of a letting agent or landlord. But when it comes to cleaning a rental, the landlord should only expect you to clean the property to the level and standard it was when you signed the tenancy agreement. While it is a good idea to take photographs before you move in, it can be difficult to determine how clean a room is by looking at a photograph. Make sure the inventory includes written descriptions about appliances that are sticky to touch or about smell, which are impossible to photograph. Describing things with clear and concise words is the best way to avoid tenancy disputes.
Getting Good References
In some cases you may need references by your landlord to move into a new home. If you left the property dirty and disorganized, your landlord may include this in your references. Basically, a reference concerns your ability to meet your contractual obligations under a tenancy agreement, including upkeep of the property, adherence to the terms and conditions, and timely payment of rent. If a person fails any tenancy checks, then the landlord has the right to refuse a tenancy. However, it is illegal to refuse a tenancy based on characteristics such as:
⦁ Having a health issue or disability
⦁ Ethnicity or race
⦁ Beliefs or religion
⦁ Being a woman with children or pregnant
⦁ Sexuality or gender
⦁ Marital status
⦁ Tenant’s age
Referencing allows landlords to make a more informed decision, and it is illegal to refuse a tenancy based on the above characteristics.
What Is the Landlord Looking for?
Cleanliness is always open to interpretation and what is considered immaculate may differ from someone else’s opinion. This is why it is important to have your check-in report with you to check how clean the property was when you moved in. Keep your inventory with you while cleaning each room. This will help you to focus your attention on the oven or fridge and not on dirt and fingerprints that were already there before your tenancy began.
You may also want to pay special attention to high traffic areas, those that require more cleaning, and areas that take the most use. These include the flooring, windows, freezer, fridge, bath, shower, and oven. Focus on high traffic areas such as rugs, upholstery, and carpets that collect most of the bacteria, footprints, and dust particles. Vacuum all rugs and carpets before you move out to secure your bond payment. Pay attention to the light fittings and fixtures as well and clean any stains from sinks and switchboards.
Kitchen countertops are often overlooked but this is the place where people splatter food crumbs, spices, and oil while cooking. Make sure you remove stubborn stains and grease off countertops and kitchen appliances.
Window and blinds cleaning is one of the most neglected tasks but this is also where tenants can fail in the inspection process. Make sure you clean all blinds and windows to the standard you found them when you moved in.
How to Go about a Request for a Professional Clean
There are tenancy agreements that include a clause stating that the tenant must professionally clean the property before moving out. The Tenant Fees Act of 2019 has changed this, and it is illegal for letting agents and landlords to request a professional clean or charge tenants fees for professional services. So if you signed your tenancy agreement before the Act came into force, the landlord may charge you fees provided that the claims are fair and legitimate. Any agreements that were signed after 1 June 2019 can no longer contain clauses that enforce cleaning fees. Landlords who require a professional clean are subject to a hefty penalty starting from £5,000. And while they cannot enforce cleaning fees, landlords and letting agents can use the deposit or a portion of it to pay for professional cleaning. The deposit can only be used to cover legitimate costs, however, and not normal wear and tear. Before dipping into the deposit, it is fair to discuss any problems with the tenants and give them an opportunity to resolve them. Any issues that come up during the final inspection must be highlighted so that the tenants have the chance to clean and return the property in the condition it was before the tenancy began.
Should You Use Professional Cleaning Services?
This depends on many factors, including the condition the property is in and how much time you have to spend on cleaning. One reason to use the services of a professional company is to ensure that the landlord will not deduct costs from your deposit. As a rule, it will cost you less to hire a professional cleaner than leave it to the agent or landlord to arrange it themselves. And besides losing a portion or all of the deposit, tenants should return the property in the condition they received it. If the property hasn’t been cleaned as per the tenancy agreement, it is best to call in hired help.
Using a professional service also allows you to focus on the rest of your checklist for a stress-free move. Additionally, it is a guarantee that no area or surface will get forgotten or overlooked, and the chances are you are short of time before the final move. Professional cleaners know the places that receive the most traffic and the ones that most people will forget to clean.
When it comes to carpet cleaning, it is usually not included in standard packages. At the same time, carpeting is one of the biggest victims of foot traffic, staining, and wear and tear. It pays to examine the carpets to decide whether to splash out on a professional clean or replace them to recoup your deposit.
Mold and damp also need a mention. Mold can develop for a number of reasons, including rising damp, plumbing issues, poor insulation, and water leaks from a faulty roof. If you notice any of these, it is important to immediately notify your landlord as these are issues that he is responsible for. The same holds for damaged gutters which they should sort. However, removing leaves from the gutters is something that you can handle yourself by contacting a local window cleaner.
What Landlords Take into Account
When deciding whether tо use the deposit to cover minor damages or cleaning, landlords may also consider overall tenant quality and history. They look at things like whether the tenants generally took good care of the property and if their relationship was peaceful and based on trust and understanding. How reliable the tenants were is also an important consideration, i.e. whether they paid rent and utility bills on time. Finally, length of tenancy is another factor that landlords may weigh in as this boils down to how much money they made out of them.
Basically, if the lifespan of the tenancy has been positive and mutually benefiting and accommodating, the fact that the tenants failed before moving out will not play a key role. If the level of cleanliness is totally unacceptable, then they may discuss all unresolved issues first. If the tenants fail to fix any problems brought to their attention, the landlord can use the deposit to that end. It is within the powers of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme to decide whether the landlord has a case when an amicable agreement cannot be reached.
As long as you can prove that you generally met your contractual obligations, you shouldn’t expect any unexpected deductions. Make sure you read the check-in report to find out how clean the landlord expects you to leave the property. If it has been cleaned to a professional standard, then it is worth considering a commercial cleaning service so that your landlord’s and your own expectations are aligned. This will also help you to stick to the agreed timescale.