Importance of documenting tenancy cleaning responsibilities

Among the top sources of conflict at the end of a tenancy is cleaning, which accounts for the majority of disputes between tenants and landlords, a substantial 56% of all cases across the UK.

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Ensuring a hassle-free end of tenancy is critical in maintaining positive relationships and it's crucial to help prevent deposit disputes, which can be time-consuming and damaging.

TDS tenancy cleaning claims

Spring Cleaning Guide

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme has created a free guide to spring cleaning which includes essential tips and checklists to guide landlords and tenants, tips on how to avoid deposit disputes, and answers common questions about cleaning responsibilities. It covers all areas of the property, including external areas and gardens.

We understand that cleaning responsibilities can be a contentious matter between landlords and tenants, which is why we have created this guide. We hope this guide will provide clarity and guidance to landlords and assist in the smooth running of the check-out process.
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Steve Harriott Group CEO | TDS

Prevention is better than cure

By understanding how claims can be successful, letting agents can take proactive steps to avoid disputes and ensure a smooth and hassle-free end of the tenancy. The following examples highlight how TDS Adjudicators assess typical cleaning complaints during the end of a tenancy.

The tenants have left dirty marks on my carpets; how can a deduction be supported?

When claiming for marks on the carpets, make sure the most appropriate remedy is being claimed for. Show attempts have first been made to clean the marks, providing evidence and if known, proving the age, quality and original cost of the carpets. This can assist if need help whether the damage caused by tenants falls under fair wear and tear,  plus it will help determine the level of compensation to be awarded.

When creating inventory reports, it is important to provide a clear description of the property's condition and cleanliness, avoiding subjective language like 'sparkly clean.' Including dated photographs in the inventory report can further support a claim. Additionally, providing accurate evidence to justify the amount claimed, such as detailed estimates, invoices, or receipts, can help the adjudicator understand the costs being charged. 

After a tenancy ended, there was substantial garden rubbish was left next to a garden waste bin, which the council failed to take, can removal be deducted from the deposit?

In order to make a claim, the tenancy agreement must include a clause obligating tenants to remove all and any rubbish or belongings from the property at the end of the tenancy. It is for the tenant to ensure that their local authority will collect this or arrange for it to be taken by the council separately.

Alternatively, a tenant could arrange for a third-party contractor to collect the rubbish. Evidence will need to be submitted when making a claim, showing that this remained on the property at the end of the tenancy and a reasonable cost has been incurred to have it removed.

Can I claim a replacement after a tenant stained a sofa?

Demonstrating that cleaning (usually the less costly remedy) has been attempted and was unsuccessful is necessary before an adjudicator will consider a replacement or a compensatory award for loss of value, either aesthetically or a shortened lifespan. A third-party professional cleaning contractor's report should also confirm that they do not consider cleaning would remove any stain that would be required to support the deduction.

Consideration of the most economical solution must be shown (which is a letting agent’s and landlord's duty) before claiming more; an adjudicator can consider a claim for a failed attempt at cleaning supported by an invoice, as well as either a contribution towards the cost of replacing the damaged item, if justified, or a compensatory award.

Regarding the tenant’s obligations, an amendment to a check-in report to record any discrepancies should be made, such as stains to furnishings or any other damage that is present at the start of the tenancy. It is paramount that records are kept of returning any amendments to the agent/ landlord and reports of any issues that arise during the tenancy.

Mediation before dispute

Letting agents can now make use of TDS’s free mediation and conciliation service which offers fair, impartial mid-tenancy dispute resolution between landlords and tenants. TDS Resolution aims to resolve mid-tenancy disputes in areas such as property standards, repairs and rent arrears and is one of the only free mediation services available in England for private rented sector in-tenancy disputes. For more information, visit the website

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Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is the only not-for-profit, Government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme offering both FREE Custodial tenancy deposit protection and Insured tenancy deposit protection.