Landlord Advice

Can Landlords Withhold Deposit for Cleaning

Cleaning is the most common cause of deposit disputes between tenants and landlords. More than 50% of the cases are accounted to issues of cleanliness, according to data from the Tenant Deposit Scheme (TDS). On that note, any adjudicator’s decision will depend on the evidence submitted and how reasonable is the amount being claimed.

Table of Contents:

Can landlord withhold deposit for cleaning?

In most cases, the tenancy agreement concludes that the tenant should return the rented property as clean as in the time of moving in. That’s why is important the level of cleanliness of the property to be clearly noted in the inventory/check-in report and both parties to be aware of this while signing it.

If the evidence shows that the property was less clean than when the tenant left, the tenant will be responsible for the cost of restoring the property to its original state. This may mean that some minor cleaning is required or more significant, professional deep cleaning needs to be done while landlord withholding rent.

Who is responsible for cleaning gutters?

This is a controversial question for both tenants and landlords.
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, Section 11 says that it is the landlord’s responsibility to “keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling-house (including drains, gutters, and external pipes).”

Later on the Act in Section 17(d) it says: “repairing covenant means a covenant to repair, maintain, renew, construct, or replace any property.” Since there are no definite words describing the clearing or cleaning of gutters, it is possible that some might argue about what is implied by “maintenance” in the Act. So in order to avoid any issues, it is best to outline definitively whose responsibility this is at the beginning of the tenancy agreement.

Who is responsible for cleaning mould?

From 20 March 2019, landlords are required by law to make sure their properties are fit to live in from the start of a new tenancy and remain so throughout the tenancy.

It means that your landlord must take steps to fix and prevent any damp and mould problems in rented property. This might include the following:

  • Repairs to the structure and exterior of the property including walls, floors, window   frames, drains, and pipes;
  • Repairs and fixtures to the basins, sinks, baths, toilets, water pipes, gas pipes, and   electrics;
  • Providing and maintaining heaters and water heaters.

However, if the landlord has taken all the necessary steps for prevention and mould still appears due to “tenants’ severe negligence and lack of regular cleaning and ventilating,” then he may feel that you are responsible for the mould.

Who is responsible for cleaning chimneys?

When you move into a rental property with a fireplace and a chimney, it should be handed over in a safe condition. The tenant should take appropriate steps to ensure the chimney is swept and left in the same clean condition at the end of the tenancy.

Since there is no definite explanation in the law regarding who is responsible for chimney cleaning, you should check the tenancy agreement applicable in your case. Otherwise, the landlord should “keep the flues and ventilation safe,” under section 11, and thus, it is his responsibility to have all chimneys cleaned annually.

How much can a landlord charge for cleaning?

If after the move-out inspection the landlord concludes that the property is not as clean as when the move-in inspection was done, then, most probably, a professional end of tenancy cleaning company will be hired and the cost will be deducted from the security deposit.

The prices for end of tenancy cleaning vary depending on the property size and other factors. For instance, for a 2-bedroom flat, the prices start from £154  and can go up to £214 if the service has been combined with professional carpet cleaning.

As we’ve mentioned above, the property should be handed back over in the same condition as when it was rented out. In this context, the landlord will most definitely retain the money necessary to cover the cleaning costs. And will surely aim for high-end services rather than worrying about the price. After all, even when the tenants leave, all costs on professional cleaners will be withheld from the tenancy deposit.

Learn more about our end of tenancy cleaning solution and how you can benefit from them.

Can I do the cleaning myself?

Yes, according to the law you’re not required in any way to use a professional end of tenancy cleaning service.

The thing is that it might be not that easy to remember how clean the place was at the start of the tenancy. That’s why you should look back at the check-in report, which was signed at the start of the tenancy. The inventory report is often supported by photographs or additional descriptions, related to individual items in the rental property, such as the oven, the fridge or the hallway carpets, for example.

This can give you a better idea of how clean the flat and its furnishings (if applicable) should be when you move out. Another important thing to point out is that most landlords are making sure that the property’s cleanliness is of the highest quality before they rent it out. So bear in mind that you should meet their cleaning requirements.

When you’re ready to begin, you can take a look at the full UK landlord-approved end of tenancy cleaning checklist that you can follow.

So, to sum up, you can do the cleaning yourself, but beware that the landlord may still deduct some money from your deposit if the work has not been done up to his expectations.

What you are not obligated to clean due to wear and tear

If there is normal wear and tear (depreciation of the units) and damage that naturally occurs in an investment property, due to ageing or structural reasons, you are not required to clean or fix the worn out or damaged fixture, it is the landlord’s responsibility. Here is a list of what is considered normal wear and tear and what is supposed to be tenant cleaning responsibilities:

Normal Wear & Tear: Landlord’s ResponsibilityExcessive Tenant Abuse
Mould, due to bad construction workMould due to lack of regular cleanings and ventilating
Rust on pipesLimescale on spout and sinks
Faded paint or peeling exteriorSticky cabinets and interiors
Carpet, faded or worn thin from walkingStains or burns on the carpet. Food stains, urine stains, and leaky fish tanks stains
Clogged sinks or drains caused by old pipesClogged sinks and toilets, due to the tenant’s improper usage – hairs, nappies, food debris down the pipes, etc.
Mirror’s beginning to “de-silver” (black spots)Dirty mirrors
Loose handles or toilet seatDirty seat, tank and handles
Stains and discolouration on old porcelain that has lost its protective coatingGrime-coated bathtub and toilet
Glass corrosionDirty windows / fingerprints and smudges on windows
Paint, fading from switches, socketsDirty switches, sockets and handles

No need to struggle with the move out cleaning alone!

Get a professional to take care of your end of tenancy cleaning.

Add a valid postcode e.g. SE1 2TH

Can I file a tenancy deposit dispute for cleaning?

If you cannot resolve a deposit deduction problem with your landlord, related to cleaning the property, then, you can open a free dispute resolution procedure under the protection scheme service that your landlord has opened.

You can do that by submitting an online request in use one of the three approved TDP schemes in UK (check which one your landlord is using in your tenancy contract) :

The adjudicator will look for information about how clean the property was when the tenant moved in and then compare his/her findings to the evidence that shows the level of cleanliness when they moved out.

Then, the scheme service will decide what percentage of your deposit should be returned, based on the evidence provided.

If your landlord doesn’t agree to your  refund claim, the custodial scheme holds the money until the dispute is resolved by the scheme’s dispute resolution service or by the court.

Header image source: Depositphotos / AndreyPopov

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