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Check out clean and acceptable deduction from deposit

Hi All,

My current tenants will move out in the next couple of weeks. They have been present for just under 2 years.

I did some viewings this weekend and the condition of the property is ok except for numerous water marks behind the kitchen sink/worktop and a few scratch marks on the entrance to the property. Whilst the living room and bedrooms are in good condition, the kitchen and bathroom would need a very good clean (limescale staining, a bit of mould in a few places, tub and basin need cleaning etc). There is also a lot of dust in corners around the skirting board.

I did not see any definite damage but they have quite a lot of furniture.

The flat was newly decorated before they moved in.

I have two questions:

  1. Would you deduct from the deposit for small scuffs/stains on the wall and for numerous water marks behind the basin given that the property was newly decorated on check in? I have a professional inventory signed by the tenants on check in.

  2. I am going to send them a letter informing them about my expected cleaning standard and a checklist for cleaning. The new tenants move into the property 2 days after the old ones leave. Should I hope that the old tenants follow my guidance and clean the property to a decent standard (and if they do not then I do it myself) or book a professional cleaning company regardless (with a view to claiming this amount back if inadequately cleaned)? Unfortunately I cannot wait till they leave to assess the property condition and then book a professional clean as I only have two days to clean and do the inventory.

I would be grateful for advice from other landlords.

Point !. Wear and tear… Point 2 Send a letter if you wish but if they do not clean to your standard you are stitched up . You will only know when it is empty

Thanks Colin - that is what I thought. I might have to attend and do it myself as I don’t want to be left with a £300 bill which I can’t claim for…am I right in saying that it is quite difficult to claim for cleaning costs these days?

Yes not worth the effort .What is clean for one person is not clean for another . Any cleaning done by someone else is tax dedutable

Make sure you let them know what you want ref cleaning ( we have a whole appendix in contract of exactly what is required)
To claim it you should have it documented in contract but if you need to claim you made every effort to remind you tenant of what was require of them

As A_A suggests, the standard of cleaning required is not what you say now, its what was said in the tenancy agreement and any attached inventory/schedule of condition.

You are taking a big risk by setting up a tenancy to begin only 2 days after the tenant moves out. They could cause damage that needs to be repaired and makes the property uninhabitable or the place they’re moving to could fall through and they refuse to leave, in which case you’d be in breach of contract with new tenants.

Thanks David. The current tenants are buying a new property and have a move in date into their new property 2 weeks prior to their rental contract ending. They have already exchanged so they are definitely moving out.

I saw the flat this weekend and it was in ok condition with no substantial damage or major repairs needed. Minor repairs I will do myself when I check out the current tenants.

Out of interest, how long do landlords normally leave between check out and check in? Thank you for the advice re tenancy agreement and the inventory.

I wait till they have left .then can upgrade if needed Re paint etc .I have no mortgages so not too bothered about a void period

I do the same as Colin. I think in the circumstances the risk would be small so hopefully you will be ok.

You should wait 5 days because of covid ( it can linger on some surfaces for 5 days)
Make sure you deep clean and steam everything

Hi All. Thanks for the info. I think I will try and push the start date back a bit if I can. Generally how long do you leave between tenants. @Colin3 @David122 So you wait till tenants have left, assess property, see if any upgrades are needed, perform repairs and then advertise the property - is that correct? ie you only advertise after all work has been done? Using this method how long do you find the inter-tenancy period lasts for?

Thanks for all your help

Your tenants are strange . Even if they have a move in date for their new property for 2 weeks before their contract with you ends why would they tell you you can have the property back 2 weeks early ? Any normal person moving out would assume things may not go smoothly and have the safety net of 2 weeks . For example once they get all their stuff into a removal van they may realise there are things to repair or touch up before they hand it back to you . What if the removal van turns up late or not at all and they don’t get all their stuff out that day ? I hope you have it in writing that they are giving you possession 2 weeks before they legally need to .

I only advertise after all the work is done. But then i am in a decent position I do building work and have an insulation firm ,so I am never in a hurry to rent out . When I do list it is usually a month to find a tenant

@MikeL Sorry thing there is some confusion here. They are not returning property to me early but they have a completion date 2 weeks before their tenancy ends so enough leeway ie they are very unlikely to need to stay longer than their tenancy so I feel them overstaying is a negligible risk

@Colin3 Ok that makes sense so you do the work yourself? Its a little bit harder for me who can do DIY but need to call people in for more substantial work. The process of identifying, then booking work and getting the builders to do the work could take many weeks or even months which would obviously cause huge loss of rent. I too do not have a mortgage but there is stil the loss of income. I’d be interested to know how others do it…

I tend to leave at least a week. In my experience tenants rarely leave the place clean enough to re-let and it will almost always require a deep clean. If you know a company that will actually do a good job (difficult to find) I would have them booked in, unless you’d prefer to do it yourself, (which I find is the only way to ensure it is done properly).

If they’ve been good tenants for two years then as long as they make an effort to clean to a good domestic standard I tend to think it’s a bit petty to charge them for deep cleaning at the end of the tenancy. Maybe I’m too soft, or too particular about deep cleaning ?

We did try deducting £200 from one tenant who although employed a “professional” cleaner at the end of their tenancy, it was still not to the standard required: ie: limescale in shower, urine splashes at back of WC, hair in sink wastes, dishwasher and washing machine filters dirty, grease on top of kitchen cabinets… etc It went to the DPS resolution centre and we were only awarded £10 due to lack of photographic evidence of the dirt - so if you do consider this route make sure you photograph every single thing !

At the end of the day it’s better to build the end of tencany cleaning into the rental price if you can and allow time to do it.

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Thanks Adrian. That is what I thought. At the end of the day I have the same experience with “professional” cleaners who charge a fortune but don’t really do a good job. Many thanks for the advice.

Thanks for putting this one on. I have so far only had a few days between one tenancy ending and the next coming in. When I’ve advertised with an advanced date I’ve had tenants desperate to move in much sooner. I’ve been lucky in that one set of tenants cleaned to a brilliant standard, as good as me and far better than the “professional” clean. The second lady did a decent clean and I could bring it up to standard and touch up the paint work in a day. I think I have been lucky though and one of my current tenants doesn’t keep the property as clean as I would like it kept. He’s been there over three years and is a bad payer ( Cannot do anything with current situation and the forthcoming Breathing Space legislation on 5th May) so am not expecting to be so fortunate. This has alerted me to the pitfalls though so thank you all for your posts. Best of luck with your situation. I would not charge for the scuffs and water marks after two years, but if you have decent evidence (photographic)of how clean it was when they moved in I think I would try and claim from their deposit. I watched a webinar from the DPS and all their decisions were based fairly and squarely on evidence and they said they do allow cleaning from the landlord but only at 33% of what a professional would charge.

Thanks Jennifer - that’s really interesting. I a not too worried about the scuffs as it is wear and tear. When I went to visit, superficially the flat was in a good state but it was the hidden areas where I noticed that dust and dirt was collecting. Not surprising I suppose.

I have a cleaning checklist which I have created and I am going to send it to them along with specific areas that I have noticed need particular attention. It may not make a difference but I want to give them every chance to leave the property in a good state. They have been good tenants otherwise and helped me on a number of occasions.

Interesting replies. my approach is different:
i have my contracts going till 0800 on the 1st of the month so i don’t have to pay the one night council tax. i let people in at 1700 on the 1st of the month which gives me the day to sort anything out. I rarely have any empty days at all.
a couple of weeks before i do the inspection and write down what needs doing. on the morning i go in with another guy to do repairs and have a cleaner lined up in the afternoon. that covers anything but serious repairs
for the cleaning standard mine is “leave it as you found it”
for deductions it’s a black hole for your time and i found mydeposits would rarely allow anything for to be deducted except for unpaid rent. i suspect they just pay pennies for their people to resolve any disputes. the other two outfits seem more balanced.
in the 1000 lets i have had over the years i have never had anyone not move out on the day they have stated they will but i guess it has happened to some.

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