Who should pay for Property Cleaning - Tenants or Landlords?

Tenancy agreements typically require tenants to return the property in the same state it was in when the tenancy began. Equally, it is incumbent on landlords to make sure that a property has been thoroughly cleaned to a good hygienic standard before they let anybody else live there.

In truth, both of these things are not guaranteed and properties are often left dirty and unclean by both tenants and landlords. Sometimes this is due to the reluctance to pay for professional cleaning to be carried out, which can seem quite expensive if you haven't already factored it into your budget.

What’s the rule?

When it comes to cleaning, the general rule is that the tenant is not expected to clean the property beyond the standard it was in when they arrived. So if the property was dirty, they shouldn’t really be expected to pay out for a professional cleaning job. However, property agents and landlords will often request for tenants to do so, which can lead to disputes.

The most important thing for landlords to do is make sure all properties are completely clean and hygienic whenever someone moves in. If this means paying for someone to perform a deep clean then so be it. Secondly, they should record the cleanliness of the house or apartment in the property’s condition report with accompanying images.

This way, tenants are left in no doubt about the state that it should be left in and will be more tuned to getting the property in the same state when they leave. The condition report will act as a reminder.

The grey area

If the property has been professionally cleaned, then there should be a commercial receipt. The tenant is completely within their rights to ask to see that. Ideally it should be part of the condition report as a photographed in a ‘Documents’ section, along with other items such as the Gas Safe, PAT certificate etc. The issue arises when the property has not been professionally cleaned at the outset and is expected to be in the same state at the endo of the tenancy.

There are some standard terms that apply to what are non-professional cleans. These should be defined in the Terms and Conditions of the report. Typically they are something like:

  • Professionally cleaned (receipted)
  • Cleaned to a Professional standard
  • Good Domestic clean
  • Average Domestic clean
  • Poor Domestic clean
  • Not cleaned

Clarify the meaning of a Professionally Cleaned standard

Each definition should carry an explanation of what is meant by the term. A professional clean will leave everything immaculate, sparkling, dust and print free with carpets steam cleaned, vacuumed, dust free. All linen laundered and spotless. All surfaces polished. Bathrooms sparkling. No dust under/over cupboards or beds.

This can be done by the tenant but it will then be defined as ‘cleaned to a Professional Standard’, but as the list shows, there’s a lot to do!

Many tenancy contracts clearly state that a property must indeed be cleaned by a contractor before a tenant moves out. Some even go to the extent of specifying the contractors to be used as each contractor will have differing service level and just paying for something to be done doesn’t necessarily mean it has been properly.

The problem comes when a tenant believes they have cleared the property to a good standard by themselves, but the landlord disagrees. Also, another problem occurs when a property has actually been cleaned professionally but either the landlords or the next tenants are unhappy with the standard to which it has been done.

The conclusion is, go by the definitions in the Terms and Conditions. If they are not specified then the standard is not enforceable. A good condition report will be able to highlight the important points. Additionally, if tenants keep pets, they may be subject to additional cleaning responsibilities, which should be identified in the tenancy contract.

Important Notes

  • If a tenant fails to keep to their obligations, the cost of the cleaning should still be reasonable. Landlords and agents shouldn’t be over charging but should be looking to pay a cleaning service at a good price for a job well done.
  • A condition report and check-in report is the best way to record the state of the property at the start of the tenancy. If an oven has been cleaned to a high standard, this should be stated with additional images to prove it.
  • If pre-existing issues are shown to have been present at the start of a tenancy or if the cleanliness of the property at the start of the tenancy cannot be determined a tenant should not be expected to pay for a professional cleaning job.
  • Panos, 09 July 2021

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