It is reasonable to expect a certain level of cleanliness when a tenant vacates a rental property. If your rental agreement is coming to an end, and you are wondering if you can charge your tenant for cleaning, this article will give you the answers you need.
The amount a landlord can charge for cleaning will depend on the property’s cleanliness when a tenant vacates. Providing they supply evidence that the property was not left in a clean condition and a receipt, landlords can claim money against a tenant’s deposit for a professional cleaning service.
Cleaning fees are one of the most common claims made by landlords from tenant’s deposits.
The burden of proof lies with the landlord or property manager, so they need to provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the property was not clean. For example, providing photographs, check-in and check-out inspection reports, and a cleaning receipt or quote. In that case, landlords can claim money against a tenant’s deposit for a professional clean.
Cleanliness is subjective, and what might be clean to one person isn’t clean to another. But it’s important for landlords to make sure their rental property is clean and in good condition before a new tenant moves in.
The best way to avoid cleaning fees is to leave the rental unit at the same standard as at the start of the tenancy agreement. In addition, both tenants and landlords can protect themselves by taking photographs of the state of the property at the beginning of the tenancy.
However, sometimes it can be challenging to show how clean an item or room is in a picture, so written descriptions are essential. In addition, this can be valuable evidence should any disputes arise at the end of the tenancy agreement.
Cleaning can be expensive, so the more tenants do themselves, the less likely they will be charged or receive lower cleaning fees.
It can be a good idea to focus your attention on places that require the most cleaning, such as bathrooms, kitchens and flooring. However, if the property is rented as a fully furnished property, this can add extra difficulty to cleaning.
The costs charged for professionally cleaning a property can vary greatly, depending on some of the following factors:
- The extent of cleaning required (Is it all rooms? Does it require rubbish removal?)
- What needs cleaning (Does it require any specialist equipment or cleaning fluids?)
- The size of the property (If carpets need cleaning in every room, a 6-bed house will cost more than a 2-bed house)
- The property’s location (Generally, prices can be higher in London and the South East).
Can A Landlord Make A Tenant Pay For Cleaning?
Yes, a landlord can make a tenant pay a cleaning fee at the end of a tenancy, but only if the tenant did not leave the property in the same state (or better) as when they first moved in. If the property is left in the same standard, a landlord cannot charge for a professional cleaning service.
Some tenancy agreements ask for professional cleaning at the end of the contract; however, since the introduction of the Tenancy Fees Act 2019, this could be considered unreasonable if it isn’t necessary.
At the start of a tenants lease agreement, they may have paid a deposit equivalent to 1 – 5 weeks’ rent to their new landlord. Legally this should be stored in a Government-backed scheme.
Landlords can only charge for cleaning services through deductions from the deposit. Because of the Tenancy Fees Act 2019, landlords cannot make tenants pay money above the deposit. If they do, landlords could be liable to a £5,000 fine.
Suppose the cleaning fee exceeds the deposit taken at the start of the tenancy. In that case, landlords can, in theory, seek the extra charges via a court order.
However, this would be a costly business for the landlord. So they are advised to weigh up the legal costs against the extra charges above the tenant’s deposit before taking legal action.
Can A Landlord Keep The Deposit For Cleaning?
Landlords cannot just simply keep the deposit for cleaning. They must first prove that the property has been left in a worse state than when it was first occupied and then request the cleaning costs from the tenancy deposit protection scheme.
Cleaning fees are considered one of the most common reasons for landlords deducting money from tenants’ deposits.
It is important to note that a landlord must return the remaining deposit within 10 days.
This even applies if the tenant disputes part or all of the deductions. So, for example, if the amount of the deposit is £1,000 and the landlord wants to deduct £250 for cleaning fees, £750 should be returned to the tenant within 10 days.
Dispute services are offered through the Government-backed Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme and should be resolved within 6-weeks.
Still, in reality, many are decided before this. However, as stated above, landlords cannot charge a tenant for cleaning fees above the deposit amount without approaching a small claims court. Therefore, it may also be worth seeking legal advice if you consider claiming through the courts.
It is important to remember that landlords cannot make a profit from cleaning fees. For example, suppose a professional cleaning service charges £200 to clean the property at the end of the rental agreement. In that case, the landlord cannot charge the tenant more than £200.
Also, keep in mind that the deposit can also be used to claim any unpaid rent, unpaid bills and the cost of repairs for any property damage.
However, allegations considered as damage but caused through normal usage or reasonable wear and tear will be rejected.
Can A Landlord Charge For Carpet Cleaning?
A landlord can charge for carpet cleaning, but landlords have no automatic right to charge their tenants. The burden of proof lies with the landlord to prove that the carpets have been left in a worse condition than when the tenant first moved in, accounting for everyday life’s normal wear and tear.
It is important to remember that landlords cannot charge tenants for works that would improve their property. This is known as betterment. This applies to carpets, one of the biggest victims of ordinary wear and tear.
Suppose carpets have been in a property for a long time and need replacing. It is unlikely to be appropriate for a landlord to charge their former tenant for carpet cleaning or for funding new carpets.
Suppose there are any significant stains, such as red-wine spills on a cream carpet. In that case, landlords could reasonably claim extra cleaning fees from the tenant’s deposit. To help avoid cleaning fees, it could be worthwhile for the tenant to attempt to clean the stains before the end of the lease term.
Can A Landlord Charge For Cleaning An Oven?
Landlords can charge for cleaning an oven. However, this only applies if the oven is left in worse condition. If the oven was professionally cleaned or new at the start of the tenancy, the tenant would be expected to leave it in a similar state whilst allowing for everyday wear and tear.
There is always a lot to do when vacating a residential property, and oven cleaning may be towards the bottom of your list.
Still, it is vital to give it a clean to avoid any deductions from your deposit.
Many oven cleaning products are readily available in supermarkets and online retailers (Amazon). A bit of time and elbow grease could save you a big part of your refundable deposit.
You can protect against unfair additional cleaning fees by taking pictures and notes when you first move into the property. Any cleaning issues should be referred to the new landlord or letting agent, preferably in a written statement.
For example, if the grill or oven shelves haven’t been cleaned and are covered in grease when you first moved in, it would not be reasonable for a landlord to charge cleaning fees if they are in the same condition during the move-out inspection.
As you can see from the above, a landlord can request an additional charge to tenants for end of tenancy cleaning services, but this can only be taken from their deposit.
The best way tenants can protect themselves from cleaning fees is to take pictures and notes during the initial inspection of the property when they move in. They should then ensure they leave the property in the same state, or better, for the move-out process.