When releasing deposits at the end of a tenancy, disputes over cleaning issues are a recurring theme at tenancy check out.
Landlords want their property returned to them thoroughly cleaned, and tenants want their deposits back in full without having to spend £600 on a cleaning company.
So how can landlords, letting agents and tenants, escape from this cycle of continual issues about such an everyday matter as cleaning.
1. A common question raised on a daily basis to inventory companies is “what is a professional clean”?
Although difficult to pin down an exact definition of professional cleaning, it is basically leaving a property spotless.
Cleaning every surface within the property and leaving those surfaces free of smears. Imagine cleaning your house and then going around wearing white gloves and wiping the surfaces – any sign of dust or grime on those gloves means that surface is not cleaned professionally.
2. How to clean like a professional
Get the right products – bleach, lime scale remover (Cif is good for this), furniture polish, window cleaner, kitchen towel, polishing rags, cloths and so on. Oh, and rubber gloves!
Clean with water, scrub with the product, wipe the surface dry and then polish dry. If any scale or grime remains, repeat these steps (I didn’t say it was easy!)
The surface needs to gleam!
3. The technical differences between a domestic and professional clean
A professional clean will consist of a team of between 4 and six people blitzing a property’s every surface for between 4 and 6 hours.
A domestic clean will be the tenant and flatmate wiping over every surface for possibly 4 hours on a good day. So that’s 8 hours manpower vs upwards of 16 hours.
The low-down – how will the landlord/Inventory Company know the difference?
As an inventory clerk, their accuracy in reporting lies in the fact they literally check every surface. It’s called the finger test. Each surface, whether it’s a skirting board, light switch, door frame, glass panel, nook, cranny or crevice is checked for smears, dust or grime. If many smears and nuggets of grime are found then, the clerk will assume the clean was done by the tenant so it won’t be noted as professional.
4. Tell-tale signs of a domestic clean
• Water scale to chrome and glass
• Skirting boards and tops of door frames dusty
• Windows left with smears
• Inside drawers dusty
• White product marks inside the oven
• Microwave roof not cleaned
• Bathroom wall tiles with water scale showing (look from different angles!)
To help you understand the process more and hopefully escape from the cycle of dispute I will lay out some of the critical differences between a professional and domestic clean.
Tell-tale signs a pro cleaned it:
• All surfaces free of dust
• Glass surfaces clean and polished – no smears left behind!
• The oven – hardest thing to do well… No white residue, no brown spots inside. Inside of glass has been cleaned
• No smears on kitchen units
• The extractor – free of grease
• Corners and edges of floors free of dust and grime – don’t forget that finger test!
• Bathroom fittings – not just wiped over but cleaned with limescale remover, wiped over, scrubbed and then polished dry. Tiring!! Very hard to match!
Can I professionally clean it myself?
Inventory companies get told little white lies often about cleaning, but unfortunately, due to their thorough inspections of properties, it’s not hard to tell when a tenant has cleaned it themselves. Just look back at the human power and the hours put into a pro clean! A tenant would be very unlikely to fool a clerk into believing a professional company had been in to clean for the checkout if this wasn’t the case. If it was professionally cleaned at the start of a tenancy the best thing to do is bite the bullet and pay for a clean, but…Don’t get ripped off!
How much should you pay for a professional clean?
The costs vary massively, and so does the quality. A full professional clean from a decent company should cost around £150 for a two-bed flat. This cost won’t always include carpet cleaning so check this. If a company quotes you £80 for cleaning a two-bed flat – I would seriously question this. Going cheap will cause issues and ultimately cost more in the long run. However, you don’t need to pay £400 for cleaning a 2 bed either.
5. How not to lose money over cleaning
Top tip – be present at the end of the clean – check the main areas as listed above (tell-tale signs a pro did it!). Work with a company that offers a call back option – so if the inventory clerk flags issue you can have the cleaning company back to complete the missed areas, free of charge.
Don’t skimp – if the property really was spotless when you moved in – make sure you pay for a decent company to clean for check out. Your weekly cleaner doing a few hours will not suffice – I promise!
If your clean is not quite up to scratch and the clerk flags some remaining issues – do not panic! Your landlord cannot claim for a full clean from your deposit – they can only claim for a percentage amount of a clean based on what was missed.