I've done end of tenancy clean myself – how do I charge tenant?

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  • Lawcruncher
    replied
    What Hampton says reminds me that on another site a poster said:

    It would be nice if the deposit arbitrations were a bit more even handed in their decisions towards the landlords. Tenants are getting away with not paying for damages and repairs by about 81% of the time, despite photographic evidence and testimonials.

    To which I replied:

    I do not think we can necessarily conclude that arbitrations favour tenants because they are "winning" 81% of the time. The figure may, and I am sure at least in part must, reflect the fact that many landlords have unreasonable expectations. A scuffed skirting board does not mean the tenant has to pay for the room to be redecorated; a cigarette burn on an armchair does not entitle the landlord to claim a new three-piece suite; a scorched worktop does not mean the landlord can insist on new kitchen units.

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  • Hampton
    replied
    It is amazing how it is expected that a property is expected to be "squeaky clean" when a tenant moves out but when a tenant moves in it is alright to be "fairly clean". It seems to me that four hours to clean a kitchen is ridiculous unless it is completely wrecked. I have been a Landlord for over 15 years and have never expected a tenant to leave a property "squeaky clean". To me it is just an excuse to keep the tenant´s deposit. If a property has been left in an appalling state fair enough but other than that be fair.

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  • Lawcruncher
    replied
    Originally posted by mind the gap View Post
    If that was demonstrably 'squeaky clean', then one can demand squeaky cleanliness in return.
    I am not sure that is the case. If the property is taken squeaky clean and left reasonably clean, I would suggest that that is a case of fair wear and tear. If the property is left in a state that any prospective tenant (not being a person with exacting standards) who had a look at it would walk straight out the front door that is different

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  • johnkimon
    replied
    That sounds right to me, MTG; but it seems what I'm up against here is the arbitrator and how s/he judges these things; and I suspect, given all I've read about the arbitration process, then Rosemary is right and that the arbitrator will want to see full-proof evidence that you've given the tenant the opportunity to clean/make repairs you've asked for. What if, for example, the tenant does some cleaning which they regard as satisfactory/as returning the property in the state they found it in, only for landlord to object? Is the LL entitled to say, 'you've had your chance, now I'm doing it'; or, as Rosemary says, does the LL have to go to the T. and say 'do it again and to my instructions otherwise I'll do it and charge you for it'?

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  • mind the gap
    replied
    Originally posted by johnkimon View Post
    Thanks a lot, Rosemary. This is very useful. I wish I'd known this before proceeding, particularly about offering the tenant the opportunity to do cleaning him/herself.
    I'm sorry, but I disagree about how useful that advice is. It is explicit in any tenancy agreement that the property must be returned in the same state of cleanliness as it was to begin with. If the T fails to deliver it back in that state on the last day of the tenancy it is a waste of time inviting them to make it right at that stage. If they are able to clean properly they would have done it by then and if they are not, you could invite them to do it themselves until Kingdom Come, but it would be a waste of time. Time is money for you. They have had the opportunity to DIY - why give them a second opportunity?

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  • johnkimon
    replied
    Thanks a lot, Rosemary. This is very useful. I wish I'd known this before proceeding, particularly about offering the tenant the opportunity to do cleaning him/herself.

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  • mind the gap
    replied
    Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post
    In the OFT's opinion:

    cleaning charges - a requirement to pay for cleaning at the end of the tenancy may be unfair if it is vague or unclear about the basis on which money will be demanded, or the extent of the cleaning involved. Such a term is more likely to be fair if the amount of the charge is expressly limited to reasonable compensation for a failure to take care of the property (see also our views below on excessive charges)

    excessive cleaning charges - as a matter of normal practice in short lets, reflecting the common law, tenants are expected to return the property in as good and clean a condition as it was when they received it, with fair wear and tear excepted. We therefore commonly object to terms that could be used to make the tenant pay for the property to be cleaned to a higher standard than it was in at the start of the tenancy, or that require cleaning regardless of whether or not this is necessary for the tenant to comply with their normal obligations with regard to the state of the property


    I suggest that an obligation to pay for the property to be professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy would be deemed unfair because in the normal course no one ever has their own homes professionally cleaned.
    I agree, but it is not unfair or unreasonable to demand that the property be returned in the same state of cleanliness as it was on Day One of the tenancy. If that was demonstrably 'squeaky clean', then one can demand squeaky cleanliness in return. It is up to the tenant how that is to be achieved.

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  • Lawcruncher
    replied
    In the OFT's opinion:

    cleaning charges - a requirement to pay for cleaning at the end of the tenancy may be unfair if it is vague or unclear about the basis on which money will be demanded, or the extent of the cleaning involved. Such a term is more likely to be fair if the amount of the charge is expressly limited to reasonable compensation for a failure to take care of the property (see also our views below on excessive charges)

    excessive cleaning charges - as a matter of normal practice in short lets, reflecting the common law, tenants are expected to return the property in as good and clean a condition as it was when they received it, with fair wear and tear excepted. We therefore commonly object to terms that could be used to make the tenant pay for the property to be cleaned to a higher standard than it was in at the start of the tenancy, or that require cleaning regardless of whether or not this is necessary for the tenant to comply with their normal obligations with regard to the state of the property


    I suggest that an obligation to pay for the property to be professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy would be deemed unfair because in the normal course no one ever has their own homes professionally cleaned.

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  • mind the gap
    replied
    Originally posted by MrJohnnyB View Post
    Fair play, Maybe it's just me and my manly approach to cleaning that makes me think it only takes 20 minutes!!
    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggggggggghhh hhhhhhhhhhhhhh

    (That was me screaming primevally!)

    You sound like our students. The one whose bedroom took us longest to clean had apparently 'blitzed it' on her last morning in the house whilst waiting for her taxi. 15 minutes max!

    It was the grot under the bed which turned my stomach most....

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  • MrJohnnyB
    replied
    Originally posted by mind the gap View Post
    No! Absolutley not. 20 hours for a medium sized property sounds bang on to me. We are talking squeaky clean here! Every square inch of the property and its contents gone over with the appropriate type of cleaner/restorative and a lot of elbow grease!

    We have just returned from getting one of our furnished student houses ready for re-occupation and despite the fact that it did look reasonably clean when we arrived, on closer examination, it wasn't. It took us at least 20 hours (including deep cleaning carpets - appropx 1 hour per room) to get it back to the same standard it was at start of tenancy. In past years with less careful tenants it has taken us longer.
    Fair play, Maybe it's just me and my manly approach to cleaning that makes me think it only takes 20 minutes!!

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  • mind the gap
    replied
    Originally posted by MrJohnnyB View Post
    20 hours? unless this place is a relatively large, or you have OCD, I'd of thought that would be disputeable!
    No! Absolutely not. 20 hours for a medium sized property sounds bang on to me. We are talking squeaky clean here! Every square inch of the property and its contents gone over with the appropriate type of cleaner/restorative and a lot of elbow grease! If it is not handed back to you squeaky clean, then it does not actually make much difference whether it is filthy or just grubby. It's all to do (again) and that takes time. I am a reasonably quick cleaner but I would allow two-three hours per large room including furniture, windows and carpet. Four hours for a kitchen.

    We have just returned from getting one of our furnished student houses ready for re-occupation and despite the fact that it did look reasonably clean when we arrived, on closer examination it wasn't. It took us at least 20 hours (including deep cleaning carpets - approx. 1 hour per room) to get it back to the same standard it was at start of tenancy. In past years with less careful tenants it has taken us longer.

    I agree with OP about the variable standards of supposedly 'professional' cleaning companies!

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  • RosemaryC
    replied
    Hi John,

    My name is Rosemary, I am new to the forum. I run my own property services company - {Link removed}
    The best approach would have been to inform your tenants of your intention to do the cleaning yourself and advised them of the likely costs with all correspondence documented in print via email or them signing as agreement. Subject to them agreeing you do the property clean and the likely costs, and subject to you having all receipts of all services used, when it comes to the deposit dispute, you are more likely to win a case with documented signed proof of agreement in the first instance. With an arbitrator, you need to show that you gave your tenants the opportunity to do the cleaning themselves and failing that, you came to a mutual agreement that you would do the cleaning and they were aware of the likely charges before you went ahead. I trust this is helpful. Regards. Rosemary
    Last edited by Moderator2; 06-07-2011, 09:30 AM. Reason: Link removed

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  • MrJohnnyB
    replied
    Originally posted by johnkimon View Post
    Thanks for all advice and suggestions. Maybe I'm underselling myself at £7 an hour! What I would say, generally, is that to get in a professional cleaning firm would have cost twice as much and they would not have done as good or as professional a job as I've done – I don't mind cleaning – so it would have been ridiculous if it had turned out that I couldn't charge a tenant for my labour.
    20 hours? unless this place is a relatively large, or you have OCD, I'd of thought that would be disputeable!

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  • johnkimon
    replied
    Thanks for all advice and suggestions. Maybe I'm underselling myself at £7 an hour! What I would say, generally, is that to get in a professional cleaning firm would have cost twice as much and they would not have done as good or as professional a job as I've done – I don't mind cleaning – so it would have been ridiculous if it had turned out that I couldn't charge a tenant for my labour.

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  • mind the gap
    replied
    Originally posted by johnkimon View Post
    Thanks MTG.
    Yes, the tenant is disputing all deductions and (falsely) claiming he cleaned property to spotless state before leaving – though he declined to attend check-out – and yes I have photographic evidence of state of house when he moved in and when he moved out.

    A thorough clean, done to a much better standard than any so-called professional clean, took maybe 20 hours between two people, and I was thinking of charging him at a rate of £7 per hour – barely above minimum wage. I think this is fair. Will this be acceptable to an arbitrator?
    That sounds eminently fair to me. I charge £10 per hour for additional cleaning, although I've never had to defend it with the DPS. Don't forget to add the cost of cleaning materials and energy usage, too.

    I am however in the process of drawing up a Real Cleaning Guide (to be given to tenants as part of their Welcome Pack and emailed to them again as their moving out date draws near). I am fed up of being told that the place has been cleaned 'from top to bottom' and is now 'pristine', only to discover that they've actually just had a quick flick round with a damp cloth. The problem is compounded when they haven't cleaned properly all year - a wet J clothcloth is obviously not going to shift a year' dust and grease from kitchen cupboards, etc. I am aiming to make it as objective a as possible and to estimate how much it will cost them per additional cleaning task if they do not do it to the required standard (or pay someone else to), before the check-out.

    Suggestions welcome!

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