New tenant is not maintaining/cleaning flat

Hi all,

First post on here, hope it’s right place:

In November our new tenant moved in. In December she went away for xmas and gave us permission to go in the flat to repair the tumble dryer which had broke down just before she went away.

On entering the flat we were a little shocked. Some old food was rotting on the worktop with green fungus/fur growing on it. The kitchen sink strainer which stops food going down was removed and old food debris was going down plughole, which will eventually cause a blockage. Dirty pots, pans and plates and food crumbs/bits on the worktop and floor. Open ketchup bottle and food crumbs on coffee table. TBH it was filthy and looked/felt like squatters had moved in.

It’s a fully furnished, high-end property with quality/expensive decorating/furnishings/finishes - deliberately so, to attract a more discerning clientele - and so far it has, since 2009. We’ve never had this problem before - all previous tenants looked after it

We took photos and sent them to tenant via WhatsApp expressing concern, keeping it friendly/polite. She apologised about having to rush off on holiday and was delayed at work before the flight etc. Then she got a bit defensive saying “a landlord inspection wasn’t arranged”. I replied that we couldn’t help but see it when we entered for the tumble repair.

She replied that she usually cleans once a week and this was an “exceptional circumstance” after just moving in.

We have arranged to meet next week to “chat”.

As landlords, we admit we’re possibly a little too proud of the flat because £50k was spent and a lot of hard work to totally refurb/update it.

We’re concerned that she will just tell us what she thinks we need to hear but things will mot change. The long term neglect could cause bigger problems for us sort out.

Tenant signed an OpenRent AST 12 month agreement with a break option at 6 months.

We’re nervous to get into a legal dispute over it which could get drawn out with accusation/counter-accusation, etc and wonder if the best option would be for us to put it down to a one-off bad experience and use the 6 month break clause/option, stating simply that we plan to sell.

Any thoughts/comments/advice from other landlords appreciated.


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To me, although clearly not ideal, the problems mentioned do not seem significant and amounts to food stuff being left out and a bit of mess.

If the rest of the property appeared well respected and clean and tidy then I would perhaps take a view of assessing it at a later date during an inspection and making a decision then.

However, I do understand your concerns.


I don’t see any of the problems you mention causing damage to the property. At worst she would have to pay to have a blocked sink cleared. You have no say over how the tenant chooses to live unless this is causing a risk to the property or life. The tenants obligation is to return the property in the agreed condition and if they choose to live in dirt in between then its their choice. I think you need to back off on this one and not meet next week. You’ve made your point and its now up to the tenant if they want to ignore it.


thank you David,
am inclined to agree, was already thinking I’ve made my point so should let the dust settle then maybe go over in a little while for an agreed inspection and try to keep things friendly/cooperative :+1:


thanks Mark,
it’s good for me to have an outsider’s perspective :+1:

If it were only the dust that was settling you would be o k


Personally I take the opposite view on this one. If you have any concerns about anything, I’d say use your break clause - it’s what it there for.

You say you never had this problem with anyone else and it’s clearly causing you worry or else you wouldn’t have asked the question.

I most certainly wouldn’t have gone away and left all that food out to rot etc.

In theory, yes maybe someone can live like a pig and it’s none of anyone’s business but the reality is different when you’ve handed over a high quality property, and it would make me wonder how much worse it was going to get.


I think if a landlord could just randomly inspect a property without notice they would see a lot more of this.


Thanks Mr T,
you’ve swayed me back towards my original thinking a bit - this morning in bed it was keeping me awake and that’s not good !!

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did you take any pictures? keep in your file.


absolutely Colin (and a video) but I might not even get into the cleaning/filth thing - more inclined to politely state “planning to sell”. Ironically it was tenant who requested the 6 month break option which now could come in very useful !!


I’ve just re-read the “issues”. It all seems completely insignificant…”some crumbs, dirty pots, open ketchup bottle and left over food” ??

I would just see how it is at the inspection. I really do think you are being over sensitive.

Post some pics perhaps for more opinions.


Dirty but ultimately harmless (so far). I wouldn’t live like this but I wouldn’t kick a tenant out because of it.

I would be looking at any actual damage and long term neglect myself, tenant being heavy handed, counter damage, a build up of issues or repeat problems.

A one off in kitchen I wouldn’t be too bothered about especially if gone away. A pattern I would be.

If bathroom and other rooms look like going the same way I would think differently.


was the bathroom ok ,lounge etc?

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I think the crumbs and top off the ketchup you are being too sensitive, this is a real world with tenants busy working so they can pay us rent, however, I totally understand your concerns and frustrations. The whole food left out to go rotten I would get a little more worried about, it could start a rat infestation, yes they can get in from all sorts of places, and that is not behaving in a ‘tenant like manner". Even if the wording on your AST agreement makes this a breach of Agreement, it is unlikely to hold up in court. Thank God for Section 21, YOU DO NOT CURRENTLY NEED TO GIVE A REASON FOR ASKING THEM TO LEAVE UNDER SECTION 21, but it makes us feel better to give one that justifies us asking them to leave. I would not say you are intending to sell unless you actually are. Difficult to follow through! Possibly a relative needs the house, or you want to move in if you do want to justify a reason? Last year after a 12 month protracted effort I did manage to evict a tenant on Section 21 who was a complete pain in the but, did not look after my property at all, got a cat in against the Agreement, and worst, refused me access for any maintenance or inspections and even the EICR, unless there was water running down the wall, (which she allowed to happen). Nightmare!
The best thing I ever did was join the NRLA… (National Residential Landlords’ Association)
PLEASE JOIN… They have our corner, few other people do.
Check your paperwork is immaculate or your effort to use section 21 will be thrown out… Gas certificate, How to rent given etc etc, all has to be given at or before signing AST. deposit protected properly, there is a long list that will invalidate a Section 21 attempt.
If it is not in order, seek legal advice on how you may rectify this. Work out the maths of how much it will cost you to change tenants and decide then after!

Hope this helps.


Hi Colin,

See bedroom pics just attached below, it looks like a burglar had ransacked the place !!


So, she’s untidy and her housekeeping standards are not great. BUT this looks like untidy to the point of unhygienic. It won’t be long before your property is infested with vermin, especially mice. Then she’ll complaint to you about it. People like this don’t change, ever. Either get rid of her, or force her to pay for a cleaner.


thank you Christine,
That’s exactly our worry - untidy is one fairly harmless thing but unhygienic is quite another

PS: I’ve just received this auto message on this forum when trying to reply so can’t reply until tomorrow - thanks everyone, much appreciated.

“An error occurred: We appreciate your enthusiasm, keep it up! That said, for the safety of our community, you’ve reached the maximum number of replies a new user can create on their first day. Please wait 15 hours and you’ll be able to create more replies”


Is this a female tenant on her own? I have generally found females to be more tidy than males . This has the hallmarks of an overwhelmed person. I have worked in other landlords properties and seen this sort of chaos many times. If a burglar breaks in, he would probably tidy the place up


I definitely do not think that’s acceptable as others have said it will attract vermin and she’s only just moved in! What state is the place going to be in, a few months down the line?

A few clothes and paperwork piled up maybe, but who leaves rotting food out and then disappears for 10 days? It’s just filthy and a health hazard.

Just my experience, things don’t get better they get worse.

Why wait until more serious damage materialises?