Let and Manage your property for just 10%
Work out your let and manage fees with our partner letting agents, Cozee.
Cozee's fee: £0
Instruct Cozee Now

Do tenants have to pay for professional cleaning?

by | Dec 21, 2022

Home $ Property Management for landlords $ Rent from Private Landlords Not Agents $ Do tenants have to pay for professional cleaning?

The question of if tenants are required to pay for professional cleaning when their tenancy ends is a question that often ends in disagreement. This is because the lack of cleaning could be a reason for a landlord to charge a tenant a fee but it is also important a tenant leaves a property in the same condition that the property was in at the start of the tenancy.

Despite this, tenants may feel that a landlord is asking for too much if the cleaning requirements go beyond the duties that should be expected for a tenant.

In this article, we will delve into the issue of whether tenants are obligated to pay for professional cleaning and give some advice on what to expect and what to do if you are unsure about your responsibilities.

A tenant cleaning a property so they don’t have to pay

Does a property owner or tenant typically decide if the property requires further cleaning?

Most of the time, a landlord will have to do a thorough clean of the property between tenants or if they have first bought the house and they are welcoming tenants to their property for the first time. Having said this, most tenancy agreements include terms that a tenant has to leave the property as clean as it was when they first move in.

This does not mean the property can become untidy during the length of the tenancy but it does mean the tenant has to make sure there is no housing disrepair or the landlord may be able to charge the tenant dilapidations.

Dilapidations are a legal type of tenancy fee that proves a tenant hasn’t looked after the property correctly and a landlord will have to take out additional money to pay for these restorations.

Sometimes, a landlord can also take money away from a tenant’s security deposit if they feel like besides cleaning there are additional damages to the property that are not classed as the standard wear and tear a property faces throughout the tenancy.

In rare cases, a tenant may agree with the landlord that it is the landlord’s responsibility for a property to be cleaned when the tenant leaves. This would have to be explicitly written in the tenancy agreement.

Can the failure to clean be a reason for deposit deductions?

If a tenant has left a property in a poor condition as they moved out of a place they were renting, it will usually result in deposit deductions. This issue is complex because there is a level of subjectivity as to whether the property was left to the same standard of cleanliness before the tenants moved in.

To avoid confusion between landlords and tenants, conducting a property viewing checklist before the tenant moves in is a good idea. This should be done with the tenant there or a copy of the checklist should be given to the tenant so it is clear what extent of cleaning they are responsible for at the end of the tenancy.

As well as this, a landlord must not deduct funds from a deposit for unreasonable causes. They have to prove that the amount they are deducting from the deposit is suitable for the costs that will be associated with cleaning a property that was the responsibility of the tenant.

This process is regulated by tenancy deposit schemes that protect both landlords and tenants from unfair removal or keeping of a deposit. Landlords and tenants can submit claims to make sure they aren’t unfairly held to unreasonable standards of professional cleaning.

A professional cleaner paid for by the tenant

How clean does a tenant have to leave a property?

Because of the subjectivity involved with how clean a tenant has to leave a property after they move out, the general rule is they have to leave the property in the same standard of cleanliness as when they moved in.

For example, if the carpets are clean they have to clean the carpets or if there were no excess amounts of dust in the furniture they would have to dust off the property. This does not mean that the property has to look exactly the same as there is some allowance for the general wear and tear of the premises.

If a tenant doesn’t want to do this themselves they can hire a cleaning service, this professional cleaning service may also be hired by the landlord if they do not require a tenant to leave the property in the same standard as when they need them.

This varies between tenancies as this will have to be decided before the tenancy agreement is signed. Some landlords will agree because they can write this off as an allowable expense. Nonetheless, generally speaking, it is expected for a tenant to clean the property to a professional standard.

What does the term ‘legitimate and fair’ mean in professional cleaning?

The term “legitimate and fair” refers to the tenant fees act found here which states that landlords need to have a legitimate case to charge any tenant fees such as dilapidations due to a tenant leaving a property unclean. The same goes for removing funds from a tenancy deposit.

If a landlord tries to charge a fee and a tenant is able to prove that they left the property in the right standard, then the tenant can file a claim and a tenancy deposit scheme will use the laws in the tenancy gees act to protect a tenant.

Why should the tenant take the time to clean?

Sometimes, a tenant may not want to clean a property because it will take a lot of time, if they ask someone else to do it like a professional cleaning service, then this will also cost them money.

As a result, you may be wondering why it is important to pay for tenancy cleaning in the first place if the cost of cleaning will just come out of the tenant’s security deposit anyway. The tenant can then leave the work for the landlord to deal with. However, the following reasons explain why a tenant shouldn’t do this:

Maintain a good landlord reference

If a tenant does not clean a property when they move out and they want to be able to move into another property in the future, they may have a poor landlord reference waiting for them. The new landlord at the property they plan on moving into may ask for this as a stage in tenancy referencing.

This means a tenant may not actually be able to move in as they are now seen as a risky tenant who will leave the property in disrepair and not take care of it. If a landlord has other tenants who show they are able to take care of a property, then this is something they will consider as a good thing when doing tenancy referencing.

A tenant cleaning a property

Avoid disputes with a letting agent or property manager

If a landlord doesn’t have an agent, then it may be a letting agent or a property manager who will discover the property in a bad condition after a tenant has moved out. If this happens, they may refuse to find a tenant a new place to live as they would have a history of upsetting landlords and landlords are the letting agent’s main clients.

It is their job to find good tenants who do their professional cleaning as part of their tenancy.

Avoid disputes with a landlord

You never know when you may need help somewhere to live as a tenant and it may not be a good idea to go around disrespecting people who have given you a home to live in. It could be the case that the landlord has a large portfolio and you may need to rent from them in the future.

Simply cleaning the property or being honest and explaining at the start of the agreement that you would prefer if the landlord did the cleaning themself would be a good way to make sure you stay on good terms. This way it can be agreed on beforehand.

What should a letting agent or landlord look out for when they visit a property?

During a property visit after tenant has moved out, the level of cleaning that should be looked out for include:

  • Making sure that the carpets are in good condition and free form pet hair or cigarette burns
  • Ensuring the bathroom and kitchen are free of grime
  • Making sure there is no residue buildup in the toilet
  • Hoovering or sweeping every area of the floor
  • Making sure the windows are clean inside and out

If any of these things aren’t kept up to standard, then the landlord may choose to take a certain amount of money away from the tenancy deposit within reason.

Also, if a landlord has previously stated they do not want pets in their property but they have found damage in their property due to pets, the landlord can charge a tenancy fee straight away. In fact, any severe breach of a tenancy agreement like this may be worse than a tenancy fee as it may result in eviction  for a tenant where a landlord would have right of access to the property.

What if a tenant makes a request for the property to be professionally cleaned?

Before a maintenance move into a property, a tenant may request that the property undergo further cleaning before they settle in. This is a regular request to letting agents. In this case, a letting agent should discuss with the landlord how to pay for this professional cleaning as it is a tenant’s right to have the property in good condition before they move in.

Tips on how a tenant clean a property themself

As a tenant moves out of a property, they may not want to pay for professional cleaning. As a result, it may be necessary to conduct professional cleaning themself. In order to do this, the tenant should follow what a professional cleaner should do anyway and then adapt these steps to follow personally.

Utilise the correct tools

It is hard to get rid of the right amount of grime and dust without tools and equipment. Tenants may find they are able to clean better by investing in a good vacuum, a bucket and sponge and various grades of brushes.

On top of this, professional cleaners also use the right chemicals. Buying bleach, baking soda and disinfectant and learning about what types of surfaces to apply them to is vital to understand how to effectively begin cleaning a property without damaging any surfaces.

A hoover a tenant bought to do professional cleaning themself

Use the inventory as a guide

When a tenant first moves into a property, a landlord or a letting agent would have conducted a property inventory checklist. A tenant can follow this checklist to make sure that the property is kept up to the same standard as the checklist should include information about how clean the property was and what appliances are in good condition.

If applicable, clean the exterior

Something you may forget about as you clean a property is the property exterior, looking at any splashes on the window sills and windows as well as making sure anything that can be removed from the exterior walls is jet-washed or scrubbed clean would be a good idea.

Begin early

Finally, professional cleaners will tell you that it is important to start early before a tenant is due to move out so that everywhere in a property is cleaned on time. As you go about cleaning, you may discover other areas of the house that need additional work and this can cause delays.

Without beginning early you may end up having to leave the property unclean and this may cause a landlord to take funds out of your security deposit or charge you a tenancy fee to finish the professional cleaning.

To conclude

To summarise, the question of whether tenants are required to pay for professional cleaning when moving out of a rental property can be a source of disagreement between landlords and tenants but it doesn’t have to be that way if both parties understand their rights.

Both parties may have valid points, with landlords arguing that the property should be returned in the same condition. Either way, a landlord should never enter a property without permission and both parties should follow the legal process of dealing with disputes. 

It is vital to read about landlord and tenant’s rights and responsibilities which you can do here and be proactive when it comes to cleaning if you are a tenant and you know you are due to move out of a property soon. Checking your tenancy agreement for any explicit terms concerning this is also vital.

Grab the latest property news, tailored for landlords

Viral, succinct and crucial information, straight to your inbox, every week

andreas gerazis

Andreas Gerazis

Experienced landlord

Andreas is a certified landlord with extensive knowledge about the UK property market as he has been actively investing for half a decade. Founder of the first three-in-one property management software, Lofti Proptech, Andreas has a brilliant understanding of the details surrounding what it takes to grow and run a thriving property portfolio.