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End Of Tenancy Recommendations

End of Tenancy Cleaning

Disputes at the end of tenancy are mostly about cleaning, wear and tear, and garden maintenance. Most, about half of all disputes, relate to cleaning, followed by wear and tear. Other issues include the condition of the garden (if there is one).

What follows is based on our experience with tenants, landlords and agents. They are guidelines, and should therefore be read as such. If you require actual legal advice, then this is not the place.

Remember, everything should be finished ready for the last day of your tenancy when you hand the keys back. It is not normally acceptable to do any of the work after this unless you have previously agreed to do so.

Contracts and Inventory

Your contract along with the Inventory is the start point. If professional cleaning, ie as carried out by a professional cleaning company of the property is required, then it will be in the contract you signed at the beginning of the tenancy. (Key advice – check the contract when you start the tenancy and before you sign it). Likewise, if carpet cleaning and window cleaning is required, those too will be in the agreement.

If professional cleaning is required, you will need an invoice (showing it has been paid) to give to the agency/landlord. In our opinion, you can use a company recommended by the agency, or one of your choice. Either way, we would recommend that should any cleaning issues relating to the work arise, these are for the company to deal with at no further cost to you. We would advise checking this is the case.

And of course, if you have made a fair job of cleaning yourself, the cost will be lower. It’s worth being aware that the standard required is detailed and very thorough. There are significant differences between a professional clean, a good detailed domestic clean, a regular domestic clean, a poor clean or no cleaning at all. Generally, the requirement is for the standard of a professional clean.

The inventory is a key document. We would recommend not starting a tenancy without one. It shows the condition of the property, and what’s in it, at the beginning. It is therefore, the starting position for when you leave.

If it clearly states there is a stain in the middle of the lounge carpet when you moved in, you can’t be held liable for the same stain when you leave.

Key advice – when you move in, check through the inventory carefully. Note any aspects of condition and cleanliness. You should write them in, with photographs if at all possible (include something to show scale – for example, a ruler next to a carpet stain). Make sure you get this done right at the beginning as it will have no validity if you leave it too long. In our opinion, no more than a week after moving in, and less if you can. Better still, before you actually move in.

In our opinion, a reputable landlord or agent will not object to this. It protects both parties and reduces the scope for argument later.

Wear and Tear

As far as we are aware, this is something of a grey area. However, the following are guidelines based on experience – we would stress however that these comments have no standing in law, and should be read as guidelines only.

As a tenant, you have “a duty of care to leave the property at the end of the tenancy in the same condition, fair wear and tear excepted, as that recorded in the inventory at the beginning of the tenancy.”

Hence the importance of the inventory.

The question being “What is fair wear and tear”?

A simple start point is that dirty does not equate to wear and tear. Reasonable wear and tear could be described as the unavoidable deterioration to property, fixtures and fittings arising from normal use. Factors that need to be taken in to account include the length of the tenancy, the nature of the tenancy, for example if smokers or pets are allowed, if it’s a family or a single occupant, the quality and condition of items included, the condition at check in versus that at check out, and any circumstances that may be beyond the tenants control (such as a water leak from a flat above for instance).

So if you are a family living in a carpeted house for 2 years, there will be some acceptable traffic wear to the carpet. However, cigarette burns or iron burns would not be classed as reasonable wear and tear, and of course, irrespective of any damage, they should be clean.

Items like light bulbs should all be working. If not, assuming they were at the beginning (If they weren’t, you should have noted it in your inventory) you should replace them. Otherwise you are likely to be charged for supply and fitting new ones.

Paintwork can be an issue. If there are lots of marks from nails, or sticky fixings, tears or gouges, dirt marks, stains and smell due to smoking that were not there before, then it is reasonable for these to be made good at your expense. Bear in mind that if you have been smoking (unless allowed in the contract), walls and paintwork will have to be washed before painting to prevent the staining from coming through new paint. All this would add to the cost, so as a general guide, avoid smoking and expect to make good all those nail holes, which could include not only filling in the holes, but repainting the whole wall in the right shade, and possibly the whole room.

As a guide, emulsion used on walls can expect to last a couple of years, wallpaper 5 years for a family of non smokers, more for individual occupancy. Smokers should expect a shorter interval before replacement is required. (If you smoke in a property let as non-smoking, it should come as no surprise if you are charged for cleaning, deodorizing and redecorating)

Flooring can be from a range of materials. Laminate is very popular and relatively easy to keep clean and maintain. However, in certain areas subject to liquid spillage, like the kitchen and bathroom, we would not consider laminate (unless of the appropriate quality and fitting) suitable as it is vulnerable to lifting and buckling if water gets in the joints.

Laminate will get surface scratches, odd nicks and minor dents which can be considered reasonable wear and tear. Factors to bear in mind include the quality, how new it is, and the length of the tenancy along with the type of tenancy – i.e. family or single occupant. However, drag marks (from moving heavy furniture for instance), deep scratches, burn marks (cigarettes, iron, hot dishes to mention a few), and stains are very unlikely to be accepted as reasonable wear and tear, irrespective of occupancy and length of tenancy.

Carpeting is also commonly used. Major factors are the age, quality and suitability of the carpets fitted. A carpet in the hallway can expect heavier usage than that in a bedroom for instance. In addition, the condition and wear at the beginning needs to be compared with that at the end, taking into account the usage during the tenancy. A family will create more wear than a single occupant. But clearly, damage (tears and rips, iron or cigarette burns) and stains that were not present (or not identified clearly on the inventory) will most likely not be deemed reasonable. These are likely to incur a cost to the tenant.

Curtains and/or blinds should be clean, as should any furnishings and free of damage. The same criteria applies in that the condition needs to be clearly noted in the inventory. Again, the age and condition at the outset relative to the length of the tenancy are important factors, along with the quality of the items and their installation.

Any appliances included are vulnerable to breakage and breakdown. Our recommendation would be to make the agency or landlord aware immediately so that they can be repaired or replaced as appropriate. However, if any such problem arises from misuse (you wash the entire football team kit weekly for instance), this will not be considered as reasonable wear and tear.

If a garden is included in your tenancy, then you should expect to keep it neat and tidy, cutting grass and sweeping paths and patios. Likewise, any garden furniture should be kept clean. However, in our opinion, trees should be maintained by the landlord, and the care of shrubs and hedges should be clearly stated in your tenancy agreement. Again, make sure it is all detailed in the inventory with photographs at the beginning, so that the position is clear at the end of your tenancy.


We are often called upon to clean areas affected by condensation. In our experience, this is very rarely due to any structural problems within properties. Most likely, it is down to a failure to ventilate to an acceptable degree. Cooking, showering or bathing, drying washing and turning off built in extractor fans are the main reasons for condensation.

Once again, if any condensation or related staining or damage is present at the outset of your tenancy (not a week later), make sure it is noted on the inventory, check for your ability to ventilate the area and discuss any issues with the landlord or agent.

In our experience, the best way of solving most condensation problems is to ventilate adequately, and wipe off areas affected. This usually comes down to opening a couple of windows for a while, and/or leaving the bathroom door open after taking a hot shower.

Rubbish and extra items

It would seem obvious, but leaving a property clean includes removing any rubbish and/or recycling. Likewise, all those hangers left in cupboards and wardrobes should also be cleared.

If unfurnished (unless with the permission of the agent or landlord), any spare furniture you no longer need should be removed. If you don’t do it, someone will be required to do it, and you are likely to be charged for this.

If furnished, any items you have moved need to be replaced in their original position and again, its well worth taking the time and trouble to ensure the inventory carries a full description of the items position, age and condition. And of course, photographs are helpful.

To conclude

Please note that the above is based on our experience and opinion. As such, it does not in any way constitute legal advice. Should you need this, then Citizen’s Advice and/or a solicitor is the place to go.

Nor does following our advice in any way guarantee the return of your deposit. In any event, every situation varies and we can only offer general advice.

However, it makes sense to ensure you are fully aware of the detail of your tenancy contract, that you take the time to ensure the inventory is full, complete and accurate when you move in, and that within reason, you maintain a dialogue with your landlord or agent about issues as they arise, preferably in writing.

We welcome any constructive comment on the above.