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Landlord Overcharging for Cleaning - What to do?

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November 27, 2023

You are about to move house. All your stuff is collected and packed, ready to be transported to the new place. Everything looks good. Except all of a sudden, you run into an unexpected issue: your landlord is saying they will deduct from your deposit for cleaning.

Now what? Can you be charged for not cleaning the old rental property and how do you respond when you feel like your rights have been violated? This post will delve into these questions. Keep reading.

Key Takeaways

  • It's not legal for landlords to charge you for natural wear and tear but they can make deductions from your deposit for broken or missing items
  • Under the Tenant Fees Act, landlords cannot require renters to book professional end of tenancy cleaning services
  • Tenants are free to clean the premises themselves if they don't want to pay a cleaning company to get the job done
  • If your landlord unfairly overcharges you for cleaning, you can report the case to any of the free deposit protection schemes or disputes resolution services

Can Landlords Charge for a Professional Cleaning Service?

As long as you leave the house or flat in a decent condition, your landlord cannot insist that you hire a professional cleaning service. But if you choose to do so just so you can get your deposit back, you want to keep all the receipts and emails as evidence.

It’s recommended to inspect the work carried out by the cleaners to see if they professionally cleaned every area you’ve agreed upon. If something was missed, you can request a re-clean.

After the team walks away, give the property a thorough check-over and take photos. If you are not content with the results, let them know so they can come back. Again, don't forget to keep the receipts that offer proof of the cost of the service.

Don't hesitate to get in touch with us If you'd like to get your deposit back guaranteed.

Can a Landlord Charge for End of Tenancy Cleaning as per the Tenancy Agreement?

cropped view of a cleaner moving vacuum cleaner in a home office

This used to be possible a few years back but is now officially a thing of the past. As of 2019, letting agents or landlords cannot require tenants to pay for end of tenancy cleaning anymore. Neither can they make you use a certain cleaning agency of their choice.

According to the Office of Fair Trading, this clause has always been unfair and property owners should have never been allowed to demand professional cleaning from their renters.

So, to answer your question: you cannot be overcharged excessively for not cleaning the property before moving out. Keep reading to find out in which cases you can be deducted from your deposit.

Can My Landlord Deduct Cleaning Fees from My Deposit? How Much Can a Landlord Charge for Cleaning as per the Tenancy Agreements?

Now, that's a different story. While your landlord cannot force you to use professional cleaning services, they can take away from your deposit for leaving the rental property covered in dust and dirt.

How much can they charge? It depends. If there is no clause for that in the agreement, it's hard to tell. If they arrange for a cleaning company to do the cleaning, they will probably charge you the amount they paid the cleaners.

We've written an article summarizing the average prices for end of tenancy or move out cleaning in London and across the UK.

One way to ensure this doesn't happen is to check your inventory list for any details on scuffs, scratches, and marks on items. In our experience, the inventory list rarely mentions anything about cleanliness. Maintaining good hygiene on the property should go without saying.

Unfortunately, it’s not exactly possible to document it. You can always see photos depicting the state in which you rented the property but they won’t be as great of evidence as needed.

If the place was not tidy or clean when your tenancy began, you don’t have to strive to get it cleaner than that. But if the house was immaculate, it is your responsibility to bring it back to the same level of cleanliness.

If you don’t, your landlord is within their rights to withhold from your security deposit to pay for the professional cleaning costs or any other cost, hygiene-wise.

Can You Clean the Property Yourself?

woman cleaning her apartment before moving out

This brings up the question: can you clean the house yourself? And the answer is: yes, absolutely. You are no longer obliged to hire professional cleaners but you should still leave the property in tip-top shape before you vacate the rental property.

It is highly recommended that you follow a detailed cleaning checklist so that nothing gets missed or forgotten during the process.

Keep in mind that this is a big undertaking. It’s not the same as regular cleaning. You need to cover every single area of the building, including corners, hallways, wall surfaces, ceilings, toilets, windows, balconies, hard-to-reach spots, baths, drains, etc.

What is more, you need to pay special attention to kitchen appliances as well as clean inside cabinets and behind furniture. Another crucial component is upholstery and carpet cleaning. You need to tackle any stains that have made their way into the fabric.

As a whole, the job can generate huge amounts of stress and eat up tonnes of valuable time. When you add packing and having your stuff transported to your new home into the mix, the process can become pretty time-consuming and overwhelming.

The majority of folks aren’t okay with that, that’s why they prefer to hire a cleaning company instead. In our experience, a professional clean is the wisest way to ensure that the place is clean to a reasonable standard.

Can a Landlord Charge for Normal Wear and Tear?

Every property undergoes gradual deterioration over time due to normal use. This is an inevitable part of everyday life. Nothing lasts forever. This includes but is not limited to worn carpets, faded curtains, peeling paint, loose wallpaper, and worn hinges on cabinets. A small amount of nails is also accepted.

On that note, landlords cannot charge you for fair wear and tear. We understand that this term can be unclear at times. Does it mean that any damage you cause on the property can be attributed to normal wear and tear? Not really.

For example, your landlords may deduct money from your deposit if you leave a nasty stain on the carpet. If heavy damage has been done to the items, the landlord could charge you for replacing them.

However, they should do so based upon the expected lifespan of the item. Meaning, they cannot charge you for the price of a brand-new furniture piece if the inventory list says the sofa had scuffs and marks from the very start.

What Will Your Landlord or Letting Agent be Looking for?

The truth is that the level of cleanliness is down to personal perception and interpretation. But everybody can agree that when a tenant moves house, they have to clean the place to the same state it was at check-in. This will allow the property owner to move in new tenants.

It’s worth noting that any fair wear and tear should be accounted for, especially if lots of time has passed since signing the tenancy agreement. Your landlord or letting agent will refer to the inventory list during the property inspection. So, it will really help if you carry that inventory list in every every room to ensure you cover the right spots.

There is no point in trying to fill a crack that was always there instead of removing the cobwebs and mopping the balcony. Remember, you should aim for the same standard of cleanliness, not higher.

Landlord Withholding Deposit for Cleaning: How Do I Dispute a Deposit Deduction?

If you believe that your landlords weren’t in their rights to withhold from your deposit, the first thing you need to do is to clearly communicate it to them. Explain the situation and provide evidence to support your claims. It's vital to use written communication by email so that you have proof of every conversation that was had.

If for any reason you two cannot come to an agreement, you can resort to the tenancy deposit scheme or one of these free dispute resolution services. Their job is to assist individuals with managing conflict situations over rent and deposit, among other things. And this is where written communication will play a role, so don’t underestimate its importance.

As for the deposit protection scheme, you can protect your full deposit. It's a government-approved service that has been resolving disputes since 2003.

No matter which one you choose, keep in mind that deposit protection schemes have different requirements, so be sure to familiarise yourself with them.

Reddit

You can also search Reddit for other people who have had similar experiences in the past or are currently dealing with them. Tenants often discuss different issues on the social platform. For example, one user complained that their landlord tried to impose a cleaning charge of £500, which, in their words, was excessive.

Quora

Another website where individuals discuss tenancy issues, including a landlord charging excessive cleaning fees, is Quora. Since the platform is available across the globe, millions of people can share their personal real-life experiences and help other folks resolve problems. This might be helpful if you are a tenant.

FAQs on Landlord-Tenant Cleaning Costs and Charges

Is it legal for a landlord to charge a cleaning fee?

Yes, landlords can claim money for cleaning, which will be deducted straight from your deposit. This happens to be the most common claim any property owner has ever made so far. You need to remember that even if an item is worn, it still needs to be clean.

Can landlords charge for oven cleaning?

If the oven is in worse condition than it was when you signed the tenancy agreement, your landlord could decide to take away from your initial security deposit at the end of the tenancy.

Can landlords charge for carpet cleaning?

If the carpets are faded or slightly worn, this will probably be accepted as fair wear and tear. After all, time takes its toll on our belongings. But if there are any rips or stains, that's a different story. You may end up with a lump withheld from your deposit for a severely damaged carpet.

Do I need to clean the curtains at the end of the tenancy?

If the curtains are heavily soiled, it is recommended that you give them a professional clean. However, a landlord cannot charge a tenant for curtains that have faded due to normal wear and tear.

Can a landlord charge for repairs?

Should there be any missing or broken items, your landlord can charge you for the repairs, especially if these pieces are on the inventory list. Mind you that they can only impose a charge for what they paid through receipts. If it’s not on the list, it's a matter of discussion on which side will cover the cost.

End of Tenancy Cleaning, Carpet Cleaning, After Builders Cleaning, Office Cleaning.
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