End of Tenancy Cleaning – A Look at Tenant’s Rights (+an updated price guide for 2021)

This page is part of our guide to renting in the UK – Check out more of our awesome content here. Below you’ll find our helpful guide to end of tenancy cleaning rights/obligations and also a price guide where we’ll tell you exactly how much cleaning costs.

Here we’ll cover:

  • Why end of tenancy cleaning is the most common cause of disputes between tenant and landlord.
  • What a landlord can reasonably expect from a tenant that’s leaving a rented property.
  • Can a landlord force a tenant to pay for professional cleaning?
  • Who decides whether the property is clean or not?
  • Pets – Can a landlord request a larger deposit, create a special clause for professional cleaning or charge an upfront fee for professional cleaning if the tenant has a pet?
  • How a landlord can recover costs for cleaning.
  • What a landlord cannot claim for – betterment and examples.
  • The cost of end of tenancy cleaning – average prices researched by us here at Job Prices.

End of Tenancy Cleaning is the Most Common Cause of Disputes

According to the Deposit Protection Service, 56% of all disputes between tenants and landlords are for cleaning or lack thereof.

56% of disputes between landlord and tenant are over the level of cleaniless at check-out.

-DPS 2017

This shouldn’t be a surprise, expecting a landlord to clean or to pay for the professional cleaning of dirt and grease etc caused by the tenant is unreasonable.

One shouldn’t forget that while tenants are responsible for leaving the property in the same cleanliness as when they found it, they are not responsible for making good items that have deteriorated due to “fair wear and tear”.

However, a carpet that has torn or a kitchen worktop that is dented or scratched can still be cleaned to return it to the same cleanliness as it was at the start of the tenancy.

What a Landlord Can Reasonably Expect From a Tenant

Landlords can expect their tenants to leave the property in the same condition as they found it when they moved in – allowing for fair wear and tear of course.

This means that if the carpets were described as “dirty – in need of cleaning” at the start of the tenancy, the landlord should expect them to be left in the same condition.

If the kitchen was described as “clean throughout” then the landlord can expect the same level of cleanliness at the end of the tenancy.

Can a Landlord Force a Tenant to Pay For “Professional” End of Tenancy Cleaning?

Some landlords and letting agents insert clauses into the tenancy agreement stating that the property must be cleaned by a professional company.

Unless there is a valid reason for this, perhaps because the tenant wants to keep a dog at the property, these clauses are generally unenforceable.

This means a court or tenancy deposit scheme adjudicator is unlikely to rule in favour of the landlord.

It’s important that both landlords and tenants understand the tenant’s obligations, which are to leave the property in the same condition as they found it, allowing for wear and tear.

It doesn’t matter how this level of cleanliness is achieved, it can be done by a professional company or by the tenants themselves.

However, if there is a dispute regarding the level of cleanliness, the tenant is more likely to prove they’ve cleaned the property adequately if they have receipts from a professional company, although there are other ways that help prove the property has been cleaned such as dated photos and videos.

In general; if an independent clerk describes the property as “clean” then the landlord can’t claim back any costs for further cleaning. If the clerk describes the property as “not clean” then the landlord can claim for the cost of the professional cleaning to that room, carpet or item.




Who Decides Whether the Property Requires Further End of Tenancy Cleaning?

Landlords and their letting agents aren’t impartial so an independent inventory clerk should be hired to list all the items in the property at the start of the tenancy and provide a description.

This process is then repeated at the end of the tenancy.

The inventory clerk will also describe the cleanliness of the carpets and the property in general.

If an independent clerk wasn’t used, detailed, clear and datestamped photos taken at check-in and check-out will help both the landlord and the tenant prove their claims regarding the cleanliness of the carpets.

Pets – Can a Landlord Ask For a Larger Deposit and Insert Special Cleaning Causes Into the Tenancy Agreement?

Landlords used to ask for an extra deposit to cover the additional risk of damage from a pet. Some even charged a one-off fee to tenants who wanted to keep a pet in the property.

However, such fees and deposits were banned in 2019.

To circumvent this, many landlords and letting agents are now increasing the monthly rent for tenants who have a pet with claws.

Landlords can also insert a clause into the tenancy agreement demanding that the tenant have the property professionally cleaned and mite/bug treated if the tenant had a pet. The landlord cannot expect the property to be returned to them in a cleaner condition than at the start of the tenancy.

How Can a Landlord Recover Reasonable Costs For End of Tenancy Cleaning?

If the tenant hasn’t left the property in the same condition and cleanliness as when they moved in, allowing for fair wear and tear that’s reasonable for the length of the tenancy; the landlord can claim back some or all of their end of tenancy cleaning costs incurred.

The landlord can usually achieve this by:

  • Arranging for an independent inventory clerk to inspect the property.
  • Optional datestamped clear photos (not close-ups) taken at check-in and check-out.
  • Providing receipts showing the landlord has paid for cleaning to the same standard as when the tenants moved in.
  • Making a claim via the deposit protection scheme that holds the deposit or by sending the tenant a bill if they were contracted under a “no deposit option” tenancy.
  • If the cleaning sum is greater than the deposit held, the landlord can also go to court as well as through the deposit protection scheme.

What the Landlord Cannot Claim For at the End of the Tenancy

The landlord can expect the property to be left in the same condition as when the tenants first moved in, allowing for fair wear and tear of course.

However, they cannot expect the property to be improved in any way, and that includes extra end of tenancy cleaning which would be considered “betterment”.

Example 1

The check-in report describes all the carpets as clean and professionally cleaned at the start of the tenancy, receipts are provided. At check-out, the front room carpet is described as soiled. The landlord cannot claim for carpet cleaning to the entire house but can claim for the cost of professional cleaning this one room. Any additional cleaning would be seen as betterment.

Example 2

The check-in report describes all the carpets as hoovered but not cleaned. At check-out, the clerk notes that the carpets require cleaning. The landlord is unlikely to be successful in making a claim to the tenant’s deposit as the carpets were not cleaned prior to the tenants moving in.

Example 3

The check-in report describes all the carpets as clean and professionally cleaned at the start of the tenancy, receipts are provided. At check-out, the clerk described the carpets as clean but not professionally cleaned. The landlord is unlikely to be successful in making a claim to the deposit as the clerk described the carpets as clean at both check-in and check-out. The method used by the tenant to achieve this level of cleanliness isn’t important, clean means clean and if the landlord charges any extra fees for further cleaning, this may be seen as unreasonable.

Example 4

The check-in report describes all the carpets as cleaned to a domestic standard but not professionally cleaned at the start of the tenancy. At check-out, the clerk described the front room carpet as soiled. The landlord wants to claim for the cost of professional carpet cleaning to one room. The tenant disputes the cost as the carpet wasn’t professionally cleaned at the start of the tenancy. The landlord is likely to be successful but may only be awarded part of the overall cost as the carpet was only cleaned to a domestic standard at the start of the tenancy.

How Much Does End of Tenancy Cleaning Cost?

The team responsible for researching our cost guides here at Job Prices got in touch with eight specialist cleaning firms.

We asked each of them to provide us with a quote to clean a two-bed property at the end of a tenancy. We asked for oven cleaning and carpet cleaning to be included in the prices they sent us.

We updated our tenancy price guide in May 2021:

Explore our price guide below to see how much we think you should pay for end of tenancy cleaning:

REVEAL END OF TENANCY CLEANING PRICES