Ideally, when tenants move out of a rental property, the property should be in the same condition as when they moved in. However, this is not always the case—after all, landlords can’t force tenants to regularly clean or maintain the property while they are staying in the rental home.

After a tenant moves out of a rental, disagreements about end of tenancy cleaning often arise. Some landlords deduct the cleaning costs from the tenant's security deposit, especially if the property is left so filthy that only a professional deep-cleaning procedure can fix it. However, you can avoid this kind of dispute if you set clear expectations for your tenants prior to the end of their tenancy. When a tenant deep-cleans the property before moving out, this practice is referred to as end of tenancy cleaning.

What Does End of Tenancy Cleaning Mean, and Why Is It Important?

In general, end of tenancy cleaning refers to thoroughly cleaning a rental property before the tenant moves out. Tenants are encouraged to clean the entire rental home, including walls, ceilings, floors, furniture, appliances, carpets, sinks, and bathrooms. By doing a deep clean on the property, tenants will bring the property back to its original condition, minus any normal wear and tear. If the property is left as clean as possible, the landlord will have no reason to deduct cleaning fees from the security deposit.

a middle aged cleaner with a bob haircut and brown glasses washes a window after a tenant moves out of a rental property

Since landlords can deduct specific fees from the security deposit if they are unhappy with how the property was left, tenants should try to do the end of tenancy cleaning themselves. This way, they won’t risk losing a portion of their security deposit.

How Can You Tell if a Property Is Clean?

Typically, after a tenancy ends, the renter should return the property to how clean it was when the tenants moved in before they move out of the unit. If the tenants can ensure the property is in good shape, they will likely prevent any end of tenancy disputes with their landlords.

Usually, a landlord will provide an inventory or a walkthrough inspection report that includes a record of the property's condition before the renter’s tenancy. Tenants can use this inventory or check-in report to help them recall how the property looked when they moved in. Using this inventory or check-in report can help tenants conduct a thorough end of tenancy cleaning. In addition, it’s a good idea to have an end of tenancy cleaning checklist, so renters don’t overlook any areas on the property when they clean it.

What Should You Include in an End of Tenancy Cleaning Checklist?

Landlords and tenants may use the end of tenancy cleaning checklist as a reference when checking the rental's condition. This checklist can help tenants and landlords ensure that the property is well taken care of.

Two tenants with their hair tied back review their end of tenancy cleaning checklist while preparing to move out

Landlords and tenants can use the following end of tenancy checklist:

  • Wash walls, ceilings, and doors
  • Wash the windows and mirrors
  • Wash doorframes, windowsills, and baseboards
  • Empty and Wipe down all shelves, cabinets, and cupboards
  • Wipe down or wash window coverings
  • Clean light fixtures
  • Wash all sinks, towel racks, and faucets
  • Clean off countertops and backsplashes
  • Clean the inside and exterior of landlord-provided appliances
  • Thoroughly vacuum and steam-clean any carpets
  • Clean and wash hardwood, laminate, vinyl, and tile floors
  • Remove any waste or debris from the property

Excessive Dirt vs. Normal Wear and Tear

Wear and tear refers to the gradual deterioration that happens when people live on a property. This damage is considered standard as it is caused by habitual use instead of neglect or abuse. Under the law, landlords cannot make security deposit deductions for any damage caused by normal wear and tear.

Excessive dirt, however, results from using the property without regular cleaning. Since excessive dirt is not considered part of normal wear and tear, tenants are responsible for preventing dirt build-up.

a black and red steamcleaner rests on a pink carpet

While landlords cannot charge a tenant for end of tenancy cleaning, they may have a claim on the security deposit if they can prove that the tenants did not do their duties to maintain the upkeep of the property. To prevent any end of tenancy cleaning dispute, tenants should regularly maintain the property's cleanliness, and landlords should provide a detailed end of tenancy cleaning checklist.

Bottom Line

As a landlord, it’s important to set clear expectations before your renter does their end of tenancy cleaning. Provide a handy checklist and document detailing the property’s state when the tenant moved in to minimize any disputes with your tenants. Additionally, be sure to know the difference between normal wear and tear and excessive dirt to ensure your security deposit deductions align with legal ordinances.

For more information on end of tenancy cleaning or any other aspect of property management, reach out to the experts at GoodDoors Property Management today!