End-of-tenancy cleaning: checklist

Renters Nov 17, 2021

Moving out of your home can be an overwhelming experience. From packing all your belongings into boxes to ensuring your new place is ready for you, the process requires keeping track of many details. However, deposit deductions and disputes occur most frequently when individuals forget to clean their vacated home to the required standard. Tenants are expected to leave their flat in the same condition as it was before their tenancy began. While landlords cannot require tenants to hire professional cleaning services, in most cases, the contract will state that the property must be cleaned to a ‘professional standard.’

Equally, it can be difficult for a landlord to reach a fair assessment of 'how clean is clean' for the sake of negotiations regarding the deposit. What has often been a contentious issue is now even more so since there can be no contractual requirement for tenants to pay for a professional (another reason it's always worth getting an inventory report).

To avoid any potential issues, check out our end-of-tenancy cleaning FAQs and corresponding checklist guide down below. The checklist is a useful guide for both tenants and landlords looking to ensure a property is cleaned to a professional standard before tenants move in and after they vacate the premises.

Can tenants clean the property themselves?

Yes. Under the 2019 Tenant Fees Act, landlords are prohibited from requiring tenants to pay for a professional cleaning during their check-out process. Instead, landlords are allowed to request their property be cleaned to a professional standard, besides the fair wear and tear. However, landlords can only expect the same level of cleanliness at check-out as the original move-in conditions.

How much does professional cleaning cost and what is included?

Depending on the size of your flat, professional cleaning can cost between £80 to £400. The average cost of a cleaning for a two-bedroom flat lies between £130 - £300 in London. The overall cleaning price will vary depending on your location, property condition, size, and any additional services that you may request.

A typical professional cleaning service will clean any bedrooms, kitchen, bathrooms, and other living spaces. Certain services allow you to pick and choose which rooms to clean for a cheaper cost. The goal of the cleaning service is to leave the area in pristine condition for the next tenant. End-of-tenancy cleaning services include but are not limited to: deep-cleaning appliances, disinfecting and dusting all surfaces, vacuuming and mopping floors, washing blinds and curtains, carpet cleaning, and deep-clean sanitation of heavily used areas.

When is the best time to arrange a professional cleaning?

Making arrangements for the cleaning process ahead of time during the two weeks before your official departure can save you some stress in the final days of your tenancy. This allows you the time to move out any of your large belongings and clear out the space for greater cleaning access. Once your property is empty, scheduling the professional cleaning as close to your final move-out date will allow the area to remain clean as possible for when you hand over the keys.

What standard of cleaning is required for me to get my deposit back?

Landlords can only expect tenants to return the property to its original conditions. Essentially, if the property wasn’t cleaned to a professional standard at the start of the tenancy, then it doesn’t have to be left as such when the tenant leaves. Landlords will often have an inventory and schedule of condition drawn up at the property before and after a tenancy. These resources show a detailed record of all of the property’s conditions prior to the start of the lease. Upon leaving, tenants are can satisfy their cleaning obligations by restoring the property to its original condition.

What is the difference between a ‘professional’ and ‘domestic’ clean?

A professional clean is cleaner than a domestic clean, leaving the area practically spotless. A domestic standard of cleaning is usually achieved through standard cleaning materials and sprays while professionals use industrial cleaning products. While dusting and wiping down surfaces are easily achieved through a domestic clean, professional cleaners are able to deep-clean harder-to-reach areas. For example, a domestic cleaner would vacuum a carpet to remove visible grime while a professional cleaner would utilize extraction methods for intense stain removal. Professional cleaners also pay more attention to the details, targeting oftentimes forgotten spots, like lime scale on bathroom and kitchen fixtures.

Inventory reports will note to what extent areas of the house were professionally or domestically cleaned. While the landlord cannot require the tenant to hire a professional cleaner at the tenancy’s end, tenants should pay attention to the standard of cleanliness noted in the inventory report. If a professional cleaning standard was recorded prior to tenancy, and the tenant only cleans the property to a domestic standard, leaving aspects of property in subpar condition (such as an unclean oven or grout mould), the landlord may be entitled to a deposit deduction.

Upon check-out, landlords may want to deduct some of the tenancy deposit if they feel there is a discrepancy in the condition of the property. If the tenants believe that this assessment is unfair, they should cross-reference the check-in and check-out reports and provide the landlord with their own evidence to the contrary. If the dispute continues, the tenant deposit protection scheme will intervene to provide guidance. For the most part, if the landlord’s claims are vague, the original inventory report is unclear, or there is no inventory at all, the tenant will be refunded the deposit.

Checklist Cleaning Items

We have put together a room-by-room checklist to help tenants get back their entire deposit and provide landlords a guide for what to look out for when inspecting a property before or after a tenancy.

Kitchen

  • Clean and polish cupboards, drawers, and countertops
  • Defrost refrigerator and remove any remaining grime
  • Clean inside and outside of all kitchen appliances, including but not limited to: microwave, refrigerator, freezer, kettle, grill, toaster, oven, dishwasher, and washing machine
  • Clean stovetop, including gas rings and control knobs
  • Scrub any mould or grease from wall tile grout
  • Vacuum and mop floor
  • Take out any rubbish from bins
  • Clean out bins inside and out
  • Remove any cobwebs
  • Wash windows, internally and externally, if possible, including window sills, ledges, and handles

Bathroom

  • Clean, descale, and disinfect toilet and toilet seat
  • Descale shower appliances, such as shower head, shower screen, and bathtub
  • Clean any glass shower screens and/or door
  • Descale and clean sink fixtures
  • Clean residue off wall tiles
  • Wipe and polish mirror
  • Clean any bathroom cupboards or shelves, inside and out
  • Empty any rubbish bins
  • Wash and descale bathroom floor

Bedroom

  • Clean out any bedroom storage spaces, such as wardrobes or drawers
  • Polish any bedroom fixtures (such as drawer knobs, bed frame, or lamps)
  • Empty any rubbish bins
  • Wash windows, internally and externally, if possible, sills, ledges, and handles
  • Remove any cobwebs from walls or ceilings
  • Clean radiator
  • Vacuum floor
  • Wash carpets, if applicable

Other Areas

  • Wipe down and polish entrance door
  • Clean any remaining doors of grime, including handles
  • Dust off remaining furniture
  • Gently polish light switches and sockets
  • Dust off any fans
  • Vacuum and clean any stairs, including banisters
  • Vacuum and mop any remaining flooring

Landlords: If you would like to speak with us about your property needs, contact us via our website to find out how we can help. We charge just 3% plus VAT (with a minimum fee of £948 plus VAT) for tenant-find services and 4% plus VAT monthly for full property management.  If you're ready to get started, book your free valuation here.

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