YES – Yes, of course they are!
Cleaning costs are the most common reason for deduction from a tenancy deposit, and while cleaning standards can be subjective, it is also the most disputed claim.
It is important to bear in mind that tenants should return the property in the same state as it was provided to them, less wear and tear. Fair wear and tear does not apply to cleaning, so the standard of cleanliness is the same. An item can be worn and aged, it should still be clean.
For example, if your oven was brand new at the start of the tenancy or you had the oven professionally cleaned then you can expect to have this returned to the same standard on return. If the tenant domestically cleaned the oven and it is not up to standard, they would still be responsible for the full cost to the landlord to have this professionally cleaned.
You cannot expect the tenant to pay for the full cost of a professional clean if the property has been domestically clean at the start of the. Landlords could be entitled to some compensation for this depending on the standard, however, it would not be the cost of a professional clean.
At Butler Sherborn we try to mitigate any disputes by simply managing expectations from the start– we are honest, open, upfront and more importantly clear.
We do this by:
- Encouraging our landlords to carry out professional cleaning at the start of the tenancy, so that the standard is clearly set for the duration of the tenancy and for the end of the tenancy.
- Once a tenant has moved into a property Butler Sherborn manage, our dedicated Property Manager contacts the tenants to check how they are getting on and ask if they need help with working any appliances etc - this is often something that tenants aren’t thinking about at check-in, they just want to move in and unpack!
- We arrange a Property Inspection 6-8 weeks after the tenant has moved to check that the tenants have settled in ok and are looking after the property.
- We carry out quarterly periodic property inspections (with detailed photographs and descriptions). This means that we have been in contact and maintained a good relationship with your tenants during their tenancy. (We don’t charge for our property inspections as I see some firms do, this is part of our Monthly Management Fee).
- Our Property Manager meets with tenants before the end of their tenancy to confirm what needs to be done to make sure the property is handed back in the same condition it was handed to them (less fair wear and tear). We offer tenants a copy of their check-in/ inventory report (tenants often don’t have these to hand)
- We recommend reliable cleaners whom we have worked with for several years (there are so many ‘professional cleaners’, not all clean to the same standard). We encourage tenants to do the same, and where possible have the same firm attend at the end of their tenancy.
- We remind tenants to pay special attention to their cleaning responsibilities for instance the windows, the oven, fridge/ freezer (this should also be defrosted), washing machine drawers – things we have found from experience get missed if left to chance.
- We obtain an independent check out report when a tenant has checked out of the property – which includes photographs and detailed descriptions. This report is sent to both landlord and tenants as soon as it is received.
We find that by following this procedure, not only do we avoid any dispute in negotiating a return, it also helps to minimise the length of time required in between tenancies because the properties we manage are handed back in good condition.
In the extremely unlikely event of a dispute, we can easily prove to the tenant how they had ample opportunity to make something good or clean. The burden of proof is always on the landlord to support their claim (whether a tenant submits the claim or the landlord does).
Some of our Let Only landlords that have changed to our Managed Service have done so because they don’t want to spend so much time negotiating with tenants over deposits. They haven’t necessarily carried out property inspections themselves to the level that we do, so they have found, if they do want to raise a dispute their evidence is not sufficient to support their claim - the burden of proof is with the Landlord to do so.
If you would like to discuss any of the services we provide in greater detail, please do get in touch.