The definition of ‘clean’ can vary from person to person, which is why end-of-tenancy cleaning is often the cause of many disputes between landlords and tenants. A deep clean before vacating the property is the tenant’s responsibility, as leaving the property in the condition you found it in will protect your deposit and reputation as a tenant should you wish to move on to another rental home.
Tenant cleaning responsibilities
At the end of the tenancy, tenants are obligated to leave the property as clean as it was when they moved in. For both tenants and landlords, it’s advisable to take plenty of photographs of the property at the start of the tenancy, which provide evidence of the exact state of the property from the move-in date.
The landlord should also have provided a written inventory of everything provided to the tenant, describing the condition of each item. So, if the carpets are described as “clean throughout”, that’s exactly how they should be left. Failure to do so is likely to result in a landlord retaining a portion of the deposit to pay for cleaning.
In other words, leaving the property in poor condition benefits no one. While cleaning to the standard you found it will ensure your deposit will be returned in full, and you’ll most likely have a good reference under your belt for your next potential landlord.
You should aim to start the cleaning process two weeks before your move date. Cleaning the property by yourself will require a lot of hard work and you will need to put in the hours to achieve good results, so allowing yourself more time to plan will alleviate some of the stress.
Cleaning checklist for tenants
Professional cleaning can be costly, and tenants are not obligated to pay for this service if the property is left in good condition. This is why a ‘deep clean’ is highly advisable, as dust and dirt can collect in every nook and cranny and is easy to miss during everyday clean-ups. Once you’ve packed up your personal items, you should consider all of these key cleaning steps:
- Mopping floors and tiles
- Hoovering and steaming carpets and rugs
- Cleaning and polishing taps and other water fittings
- Removing cobwebs from walls, ceiling and skirting boards
- Cleaning windows, doors and handles
- Degreasing the hob, oven and all components
- Dusting and polishing surfaces, such as tables and sideboards
- Removing limescale from sinks, showers and bathtubs
- Scrubbing and disinfecting the toilet
- Removing mould from walls and tiles
- Wiping down kitchen cabinets and countertops
- Dusting and clearing out cupboards, wardrobes and drawers
- Cleaning all appliances (kettles, toaster and microwave etc)
- Emptying and cleaning the fridge and freezer
- Cleaning out large appliances like washing machines or dishwashers
- Emptying and cleaning bins (inside and outside ones)
- Sweeping and tidying outside areas
- Hoovering mattresses and sofa cushions
Take on one room at a time
Cleaning a house to a higher standard than usual can feel overwhelming at first, especially if you’re renting a large property. The best call of action is to take it one room at a time, this way you can keep track of what you’ve already accomplished and what you have yet to tick off the checklist.
It can be tempting to dart straight towards the bigger problems in the house, but you could end up forgetting all the small things in the process.
Refer back to move-in day
As previously mentioned, you and your landlord should have photographed all areas of the property on day one. It can be helpful to refer back to your check-in guide to see what condition the home needs to be left in. You can also better gauge whether certain damages, stains or wear-and-tear are your responsibility or if they were present before you moved in.
Do a final check
Make sure you allow yourself enough time for a final thorough inspection. Check your inventory and walk through your property so you can tick things off the list as you go. If you have a friend available, get them to check over the property to see if there is anything you might have missed.