What’s in a name? – ‘Professional Clean’

We are frequently asked by both Landlords and Tenants “what is the difference between a ‘domestic clean’ and a ‘professional clean’?” Have you ever experienced problems regarding cleaning at the end of a Tenancy?

If you have, you are not alone.  Once again, The Tenancy Deposit Scheme 2013/2014 Annual Review. reveals that cleaning remains the biggest cause of deposit dispute appearing in over half of cases referred to them for adjudication. Many Landlords pay to have a property cleaned at the commencement of a Tenancy, on the basis that the Tenant will do the same at the end.  In general, this works well, but there are issues that can arise and cleaning remains the most frequently claimed for breach of the Tenancy from Tenant’s deposits.   Often the issues lie with a differing expectation and standards from the various parties regarding what constitutes ‘professional clean’, ‘domestic clean’ or the insufficient recording of a property’s cleanliness at either end of the Tenancy.  This problem is compounded by the differing standards and scope of services provided by paid cleaners and for this reason we will not automatically describe a property as ‘professionally clean’ just because a paid cleaner has been engaged.

A Landlord may expect that a Tenant should pay for a professional clean at the end of the Tenancy if they the Landlord paid for it to be done at the commencement.  Whilst this can be drafted into the Tenancy Agreement, it should be remembered that the Tenant would not be expected to leave the Property in a better standard than that recorded on the Inventory Check-in.  Also, there is no reason why a Tenant could not clean a property themselves to the required standard, providing that they had the necessary knowledge, products and apparatus.  Unfortunately in our experience both Landlords, Tenants and paid domestic cleaners fail to realise the scope of cleaning required with areas commonly being missed such as the insides of cupboards and drawers, greasy cooker hoods, soap deposits and limescale in bathroom fitments, dusty door mouldings, skirtings and light fittings, kitchen appliances, etc.

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Tenants should also accept that there are some cleanliness problems that occur during a tenancy that can only be rectified by a professional clean such as wine spilt on carpets and upholstery or condensation mould to grouting.

A professional cleaner would be expected to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of appropriate cleaning standards and have commercial apparatus and products.  Their services may entail steam cleaning of carpets, the washing of walls and skirting boards, steam cleaning of tiles, deep cleaning of ovens, etc. Whereas a domestic cleaner will usually be expected to wipe and polish all surfaces using appropriate household products and vacuum all flooring and surfaces.

We follow the APIP (The Association of Professional Inventory Providers) best practice guidelines.  APIP are part of the NFoPP umbrella organisation which also includes ARLA and NAEA and set the industry standards for professionalism and integrity for Property Professionals.  As such, we use clear and concise descriptive terminology when we record cleanliness on the inventory in order to avoid dispute. For example, if something is described as ‘Dusty‘, it would be seen to have a covering of dust removable with a vacuum cleaner.  If an item is described as ‘Grubby‘, it would be in need of cleaning above that required for dusty and requiring cleaning materials.  If it were recorded as ‘Dirty‘, it would be in need of cleaning above that required for grubby and requiring much cleaning involving cleaning materials.  And at the far end of the scale, something described as ‘Filthy‘ would be extremely dirty and requiring major cleaning to a professional standard and in a state that may not be restorable to an acceptable standard.

So in summary, if you are a Landlord it is important to ensure that you use an Inventory Provider such as Concise Property Solutions, who works within the Industry standards and use defined terminology.  It is also essential that any cleaner you engage is fully briefed as to your expectations.  If you are a Tenant, remember to refer to your Inventory and Check-in Report to establish what level of cleaning will be expected at the end of your Tenancy.  If you engage a cleaner, brief them as to what is required, providing them with a copy of the Inventory may be a comprehensive way of doing this.  If you decide to clean the property yourself, ensure it is to the same standard as at the commencement of the term after allowing for fair wear and tear.