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Landlords and tenants at war over cleaning fees

Date online: 10/09/2014

Since the introduction of tenant deposit protection in 2007, cleaning has been the no 1 cause of disputes. The annual review by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) for 2012-13 highlights the types of disputes  and the most common cause of complaint brought by tenants is about cleaning, increasing from 49% in 2009 to 56% in 2013 and are now at their highest level since 2007.

Cleaning continues to be the major cause of disputes between landlords and agents and their tenants. The problem lies in the fact that very often both parties feel their properties have been handed over or back fully cleaned.  

Danny Zane, Director of My Property Inventories explains: “Tenants don’t realise that they should leave the property as they found at check-in, in order to avoid deposit deductions for professional cleaning.  

We carry out thousands of check-outs every year and we have found that when it comes to cleaning, it does not occur to many tenants that they have to leave the property as they found it.  Tenants often fail to clean the mould in soap dispensers and in the washing machine; lint in the rudder seal; dust above doors,; dirty windows and skirting; finger prints on light switches.  

Professional cleaning fees can be expensive and tenants are nearly always shocked and angry when they lose part of their deposit to cleaning costs. To justify cleaning costs, landlords and agents need to ensure they carry out a thorough  check-in  report  which includes  a   summary  schedule  of  the condition of  the property and its contents at the start of the tenancy.  

The check-out report should identify the discrepancies found between check-in and check-out.  If professional cleaning is required, agents and landlords should provide the tenants with a detailed quotation from a cleaning company, referring to the cleaning deficiencies noted at check-out.  This should be followed up by evidence to show the time spent by the cleaning contractor and the work undertaken.

At a recent check-out, the tenant believed they had fully cleaned the apartment. Often the issue is that tenants get used to a certain standard of living and do not see things that others will immediately spot, in the way of dust and dirt. In this case, the tenant had left the inside of the kitchen cupboards greasy; there was mould in the washing machine soap dispenser; and the underside of the extractor fan hood was also coated in grease. A professional clean was required after the check-out to bring the property up to standard, at the tenants’ expense.”

My Property Inventories has put together a list of the top five dirt spots in properties:

•    1st place - Ovens
•    2nd place – Toilets
•    3rd place – Carpets and floor coverings
•    4th place - Showers
•    5th place – Windows and doors

My Property Inventories is an independent, impartial and professional inventory service provider working with lettings agents, residential and commercial landlords, tenants, relocation agencies, corporate companies, embassies and various housing associations. The firm prides itself on its outstanding customer service within the inventory service industry and its inventory clerks are fully trained by the AIIC.

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