Cleaning disputes at the end of a tenancy have risen by 50% in the last five years, according to the Tenant Deposit Scheme (TDS).
Cleaning has consistently been the most common dispute in cases brought to the TDS, arising in over half (58%) of all the cases they deal with. In 2015, the proportion of disputes involving cleaning increased again, and is now at its highest level since the start of the scheme.
The second most common cause of dispute is damage to property, at 52%, followed by redecoration, 32%, gardening, 17%, and rent arrears, 10%.
To protect your rental property from damage by the tenants, remember to cover yourself with Landlord Property Insurance.
If your tenants do happen to fall into rent arrears, having Rent Guarantee Insurance in place will ensure you still get paid.
According to Imfuna Let, an inventory firm, landlords and letting agents are increasingly faced with unclean properties at the check out stage.
The CEO of Imfuna Let, Jax Kneppers, says: “Many tenants fail to leave their property in the same condition at check out and are often very surprised when they are told that professional cleaning is required.
“Some tenants claim that cleaning is just normal wear and tear. If an area or item was clean at check in, it should be left clean at check out. The most common cleaning issues centre around stained and market carpets; ovens, which cause the most problems; heavy lime scale to kitchen and bathroom fittings… The response of tenants is often, ‘It’s not my fault, this is a hard water area’; grease deposits throughout the kitchen; surfaces and cupboards may look clean, but will feel sticky to touch; thick dust and cobwebs, particularly around furniture and on the ceilings; and dirty windows that have obviously not been cleaned during the whole tenancy.”
Kneppers continues: “It is so important that landlords and agents do a thorough check in and check out, so they have the right proof of condition at the start and end of a new tenancy agreement. If agents and landlords wish to make deductions for cleaning costs, they need to be careful to record the cleanliness of the property in sufficient detail, at the start and end of the tenancy.
“At the check out stage, the tenant should be made aware of the areas requiring cleaning and the potential costs involved. Landlords and agents need to ensure any charges they claim are a fair reflection of the property’s condition at the start of the tenancy.”
The Director of Balgores Property Group, Howard Lester, also comments: “The check out is such an important part of the process, but is totally dependent on the quality and accuracy of the inventory carried out at the start – not all inventories are equal!
“A detailed inventory and check out with both words and pictures provides ultimate proof of condition, including cleanliness. Additionally, the fact that we visit tenants two weeks prior to the check out and advise of likely deductions has meant that we have reduced our disputes over cleanliness by over 85%.”
To avoid being left with a filthy or damaged property when your tenants move out, remember the importance of conducting regular property inspections and having a thorough inventory and check out procedure in place.