All good things come to an end – and in due course your tenancy will end too.
Is the property left in a good condition so that I can get my full deposit back? How much I have to pay my rented flat or a house to be professionally cleaned?
These are the usual questions every tenant asks himself/herself when it comes to vacating their rented premises. Naturally, the first order of business is to check the T&Cs in your contract with the letting agency or the landlord in regards to the end of your tenancy and whether they require the property to be cleaned professionally at the end or not.
What state was the property in when you moved in? New tenants have a right to receive a clean and hygienic property and when moving out, former tenants need to make sure the property is just as clean as it was when they first moved in. Moving can be a very time consuming task within our already busy schedules which is why an increasing number of tenants and landlords are turning to the service industry to fill in that role. Who has to clean what?
Tenants are in charge of daily cleaning and maintenance in the property. They can be held liable if they allow lack of hygiene to cause a rise and spread of health hazards diseases, pest infestation and mould. The removal of these hazards is costly and the renters will be charged for the bill. When doing the check in inspection, remember to confirm what areas fall within your responsibilities.
Can the landlord or the letting agency force you to hire a cleaning company
So, you already know that cleaning is the tenant’s responsibility. This responsibility dictates that when you return the keys to the landlord the property will be just as clean, as it was when you first moved in. Your landlord can request a hygiene standard equal to the one documented in the inventory agreement.
End of tenancy cleaning is something you do when your property cannot meet that criteria, but if you have been a good and caring tenant, it’s likely your home will be very close to the inventory already. In such a case, you only need to do a final sweep before surrendering the property.
Many landlords include a “professional cleaning” clause in their tenancy agreements
If the landlord agrees to have the property professionally cleaned before you move in, it’s fair to do the same before you move out. You should negotiate these conditions with your landlord before signing the tenancy agreement.
End of tenancy cleaning is vital to get back your deposit
The Deposit Protection Scheme confirms more than half of deposit disputes (56%) are the result of insufficient cleaning. This makes it the most common cause for deposit disputes. Surprisingly, inflicted damage comes second at 43% and redecoration third at 30%.
How to do end of tenancy cleaning
It is to your advantage to do a thorough end of tenancy clean and meet all the responsibilities in your tenancy agreement as otherwise, you will have a hard time winning back your tenancy deposit. Ensure that any damage caused by you or a visitor to your home is repaired or replaced. If you leave it up to the landlord to send you a bill, chances are the cost will be higher as they are unlikely to shop around for the best deal. Allow yourself enough time and energy to do the final clean and make it as near to move out inventory as possible.
How to do end of tenancy cleaning yourself
The cheapest option is to obviously do the cleaning yourself. While it’s nothing too scary, your moving experience can already be overwhelming, without any cleaning involved. On the other hand, if you have a lot of time before returning the keys, cleaning yourself is a good way to save some moving expenses.
Before you start, contact the landlord or letting agent and request their final inspection checklist. To make sure you’ve cleaned ENOUGH, you need to base your work on the checklist AND the move in inventory report. You need to match the quality you see in the report, while making sure each item you see on the checklist is cleaned.
You will need to clean at minimum the following items, if you’re to pass the final inspection:
Kitchen – Empty all the cupboards and shelves. Remove all crumbs and deposits, clean inside and out and wipe thoroughly with a dry cloth. Do your best to pull out the appliances and wash the floors beneath them and dust the walls behind them. Make sure the appliances are clean, including the washing machine soap tray and the dishwasher filter. The back of most appliances is usually dusty and full of cobwebs – make sure to wipe them with a dry cloth. After you have cleaned the fridge, if it is empty switch it off at the mains and leave the door open to prevent mould. Make sure to pull out all fridge shelves, cabinets and racks. Clean them good including the groves where they slide in the fridge. Repeat this for each appliance with similar features.
Oven and hob – There is nothing worse than cleaning someone else’s oven when moving into a new property. If not cleaned often, the oven builds up thick layers of grime, burnt food deposits, grease and household dust. It all makes for a nasty cleaning job that requires the most time, effort and harsh cleaning agents out of all other cleaning jobs. Unpleasant though the task may be, make sure it is sparkling, as the oven is often the first item to be inspected. The same goes for the hob, burners, racks, baking trays, handles, switches and all other surfaces. You really need to put in the extra effort about your oven, or it’s not worth starting at all.
Living room – You need to clean the coffee table and all cupboards, cabinets, bookshelves and TV set. Living rooms often feature extensive decorations and full bookshelves. This room is mostly about dusting extensively and vacuuming everything to perfection. There are many item and awkward surfaces to clean, as easy as it might seem, the living room is very time consuming.
Bathroom – Scrub everything in the bathroom including the tiles, sink, bath, toilet, mirror and other accessories. Ensure the drains and plug holes are clear from debris and make sure the water runs away quickly. Remove mould, soap scum and lime scale build up from all metallic surfaces like the faucets, the shower, the drain grates. If the shower head has some of its holes plugged from lime scale build up, you will have to clean it up. Detach the shower head and submerge it in white vinegar overnight. The day after, it should be cleared and working properly again.
Walls – You should look for any scuffs or dirty marks on the walls. If it is not possible to wash them off, paint them over with some emulsion of the same colour. You may find unfinished paint pots in the shed or utility cupboard you can use. This is worth doing especially if there are a lot of marks, otherwise your landlord may decide to decorate and bill you for the cost! If you hanged any pictures or decorations on the walls there are probably a lot of nail holes. You don’t want your landlord to find too many of these, or they might throw a big fuss in the way of your pocket. Fill nail holes with wall filler putty and pain over. It’s important to clean all the mould if any and to also inform your landlord about the problem. Don’t paint over the mould – let the landlord do that, but try your best to remove it. Unfortunately, bleach is the most reliable cleaning agent against mould. Use a breathing mask and gloves when you use such harsh cleaning agents.
Windows – Clean all the windows from the inside. If you can’t reach the outside yourself then arrange for a window cleaner to call. Alcohol and vinegar remain two of the best products you can use for cleaning glass and windows. If there are any cracked panes arrange for them to be replaced unless they appear on the check-in inventory. Windows make quick impressions on the general hygiene. If you make yours crystal clear, your landlord can be more likely to miss dirt in other spots.
Furniture – You want to vacuum your furniture and wash it using a dry wash solution. The upholstery needs to look pristine – no smells, no hair, no bad odour. This is especially true if you live with small children, pets or smoke cigarettes. Alternatively, you can hire a steam cleaning service to wash all your upholstery items.
For the wooden upholstery, you need to look for scuff marks, scratches and dings. Use almonds and coffee grounds to rub on the scuff marks and scratches. For minor issues, they will do well to mask of the damage. For a dazzling finish, you can buy a wood polish or use lemon oil. Rub well into the wooden parts and your furniture will look brand new.
Curtains/blinds – If the curtains are washable then follow washing instructions or take them to the dry cleaner and dust the curtain rods. Do the same with any fabric blinds in the property. Thoroughly dust both sides of the slats of venetian blinds. Repair any damage or replace if the blind has become unusable.
Carpets/Rugs – If you have a steam cleaner (hot water extraction cleaner or wet/dry vacuum cleaner), this is a great way of bringing up carpets and rugs to look like new. If not, you can hire and include various attachments and detergents to enable you to clean every part of the property including floors, tiles, windows, walls, and furnishings. The minimum thing you should do is to vacuum all carpets and scrub them with a wire brush to remove all the hair trapped in the fibres.
Staircases and hallways – These are areas with a lot of traffic and would be in need of more serious cleaning. The carpets and rugs might require steam cleaning to get all the dirt and grime out.
When should you do end of tenancy cleaning yourself
- You rent a small property or a room of a shared property
- You rent an unfurnished property
- You deep clean at least once every couple of months
- You have a lot of time between moving and handing back the keys
- You’re looking for a cheaper moving experience
- You’re an experienced cleaner
When shouldn’t you do end of tenancy cleaning yourself
- You are allergic to harsh cleaning products, like bleach
- You cannot find enough free time or energy
- You are not a good and thorough cleaner
- You need to use professional equipment you cannot operate yourself
If you are cleaning by yourself, allow enough time to hire equipment, buy the right products, have things dry cleaned, and replace/repair items. Be thorough, tick things off your list as you go, take photographs when complete, and ask a witness to sign these before the final inventory check and handing over the keys.
Hire a cleaning company
The above list is extensive, but in no way does it list everything you need to clean before you can move out with your deposit. If you don’t have the time or energy required to go through extensive cleaning, maybe hiring a company is the solution for your move.
Start organizing your move out a few weeks before the final day of your tenancy. Don’t underestimate the cleaning. As I mentioned above, it is vital part of the whole process and it is important for you to leave the property in the same condition as when you moved in. So, bear in mind a few facts:
- End of tenancy cleaning takes many hours work. Usually the companies send a team of cleaners to work. The cleaning is very difficult and very different from usual daily cleaning that is why leave one day for the cleaning. You must bear this in mind when you book your inventory check-out.
- Start your enquiries about hiring a cleaning company a month before the final day and make your booking at least 2 weeks in advance. The cleaning companies work with limited number of cleaning teams and usually it is not possible for them to take jobs on a short notice – on the day of the moving out or the previous day. So, if this happen then not only the money for the cleaning but the LA will deduct additional money for organizing the cleaning instead of you or to compensate the new tenants in they cannot move in because of the condition of the property.
- When you enquire about hiring a cleaning company give them as much information about the property, as possible. Usually they don’t offer viewings in advance and you will be quoted based on the information about the size of the property you have told them. They will ask you about the number of the rooms (reception, bedrooms), bathrooms, if the property is over a few floors or one level, about any additional areas as utility rooms, storage areas, conservatory, garage, etc. that need cleaning. If you have to leave the premises with carpets professionally cleaned tell them about the carpeted rooms, sets of stairs, landings, etc. It is good to have on hand some information about the size of the rooms, some links to the property in different websites, floor plan. This information will help the companies to give you a price for the cleaning.
- When you already have a few quotes and you are wondering who to hire don’t take your decision on the price alone. Ask them if they offer a free re-clean. Bear in mind that if it is a company who offers the service throughout the whole London probably they will not come back for a re-clean if there are cleaning issues after their work. It is better to hire a local company because they are known in the area and it is easier for them to organize a free re-clean if necessary. Also, because they work in the area they are more likely to provide a better service in order to maintaining their good reputation.
- And at the end – about the price. If quoted over the phone (in 90% you will get the price this way) the companies will give you a price if the property they have to clean is in reasonably clean condition. Don’t be surprised when they ask you for additional payment if they find the property left in bad condition and never been cleaned properly, full with your personal stuff or with a lot of rubbish left. A way to avoid this from happening is to keep your property in a good condition and clean it regularly during your tenancy. This will save you money and you will live in a healthy environment.
- Some tips to keep the property during your tenancy:
- Ventilate the bathrooms and rooms regularly. This will prevent mould growing. Mould destroys and discolours the surfaces and often cannot be removed with wiping and mold removing chemicals. If the paint is damaged you may be asked to pay for re-painting the areas.
- Keep the kitchen clean including kitchen appliances? Wipe the kitchen cupboards regularly with a kitchen degreaser, especially near the cooker.
- If you have a dishwasher once a week or every other week (depending how often you cook) put in it the cooker pan supporters and the metal extractor fan filters to avoid the grease to build-up.
- Wipe the oven regularly. You can put a baking foil in the oven tray to avoid burnt-on grease.
- Dry the washing machine soap drawer and rubber after the washing.
- Clean the bathroom once a week using a lime scale remover. Brush the toilet bowl at least once a week with a toilet cleaner or bleach to avoid lime scale and organic builds-up.
- Dust the surfaces and vacuum properly the floors and carpets, especially the edges. Bear in mind that even the most powerful carpet cleaning machine will not restore the condition of the carpets if you haven’t vacuumed them for a long time and the dirt and dust have already accumulated deep into the carpet pile.