One source of conflict between landlords and tenants when it comes to the return of security deposits involves property cleanliness (or lack of). Luckily, it’s something that can be avoided!
As a landlord, providing your tenant with a good end-of-tenancy checklist can help ensure they return the unit to its original condition. Thereby, helping you get your property ready for the next tenant.
The following are answers to commonly asked questions regarding end-of-tenancy cleaning.
What is end-of-tenancy cleaning and why is it important?
End-of-tenancy cleaning is where a tenant undertakes thorough cleaning of their rented unit before moving out. It requires that a tenant clean every aspect of the home to ensure it returns to its original condition.
Most leases require that a tenant leaves their rented premises in the same condition they found it in, less normal wear and tear. If a tenant doesn’t do this, they would effectively be in violation of the lease.
Consequently, as a landlord, you may be able to make appropriate deductions from the tenant’s deposit to cater for the cleaning costs. And this is usually the part that often leads to conflict.
What is “clean” when it comes to end-of-tenancy cleaning?
The term “clean” is relative. How you define it may be completely different from how your tenant interprets it, and that may be the genesis of disputes.
As a landlord, you should only require a tenant to clean the property to the level it was originally in. And that’s why it’s important for landlords to have a move-in checklist so that it can act as a reference.
What is wear and tear?
Wear and tear is the gradual deterioration of a property over time due to normal, everyday use. An example of this is a worn carpet. If you rented out your property when the carpet was new, you shouldn’t expect it to be in the same condition after a year or so. And the longer a tenant stays, the more the rate of wear and tear there will be.
Other examples include faded curtains from sunlight exposure, scuffed wooden flooring, and faded paint. These are inevitable when renting out a property. As a landlord, it’d be your responsibility to fix such damage when a tenant leaves.
If there is, however, damage such as a torn carpet, missing tiles, or a smashed bathroom mirror, that would be an entirely different matter. These are examples of damage that exceed wear and tear. If the tenant moves out without fixing them, you can make appropriate deductions from their security deposit.
Can a landlord require a tenant to hire cleaning services before moving out?
No, you cannot do so as per the Tenant Fees Act of 2019. You cannot require tenants to organize and pay for professional cleaning services after the end of their tenancy.
Prior to its enactment, it was quite common for landlords to include clauses in their lease requiring so. This is, however, not the case today!
Can a landlord make deductions from a tenant’s deposit to cover professional cleaning services?
Yes, you can! If a tenant leaves the unit in a dire state of uncleanliness, you can use part of their deposit to hire expert cleaning services.
What you cannot, however, do is include a clause in your lease demanding tenants to hire expert cleaning services.
You should use the move-in checklist to ascertain how clean the unit should be before the tenant moves out.
How much can a landlord charge for move-out cleaning?
As a landlord, you can deduct the cost of cleaning that goes above-and-beyond normal usage. You can deduct the entire security deposit amount. And in extreme cases, you can even sue the tenant in court for additional fees if necessary.
How long do landlords have to return a tenant’s deposit?
After the tenancy has ended and the final inspection is done, the next thing would be to return the deposit (or whatever remains) back to the tenant.
As per KS Stat. § 58-2550, landlords in the state of Kansas have between 14 and 30 days to return the tenant’s deposit. If the tenant doesn’t demand for its return within 30 days and doesn’t provide a mailing address, you must mail the deposit to their last known address.
Wrongfully withholding your tenant’s deposit can have certain financial repercussions. Including, losing the right to make any deductions and being liable for the tenant’s court and attorney fees.
What does an end-of-tenancy cleaning checklist involve?
The following are some of the things that an end-of-tenancy checklist must include.
Walls, Doors & Ceilings
- Wipe down window and door surfaces.
- Wipe down skirting boards.
- Dust and clean door frames and window sills.
- Remove cobwebs from ceilings.
- Wipe and polish electrical switches and sockets.
Fixtures, Fittings & Furnishings
- Dust and clean curtain rails, picture frames, and mirrors.
- Dust lampshades, fittings, and light bulbs.
- Clear out/clean cupboards and inside drawers.
- Dust and clean sofa cushions.
- Dust and polish sideboards, desks, and tables.
- Use vinegar or lemon juice to clean the sink, taps, and fittings.
- Scrub and clean the outside areas of the toilet.
- Clean the tiles.
- Clean the shower doors and tray.
- Clean shower rails or radiators.
- Remove any obstructions from the bath if the water is draining slowly.
- Clean the floor.
- Clean the wall tiles.
- Empty out and clean all cupboards and drawers.
- Clean the kitchen sink and remove any limescale from taps.
- Wipe down all countertops and worktops.
- Clean and degrease the oven.
- Clean all cutlery and appliances.
First impressions matter!
- Remove any rubbish lying around.
- Empty out the trash bins.
- Mow lawns and weed flower beds.
- Remove any debris from dried leaves.
- Jet wash the walk and driveways .
End-of-tenancy cleaning is a critical aspect of ensuring your property is desirable for the next tenant. For expert help in maximizing your ROI and reducing your costs, get in touch with SCUDO Real Estate & Property Management. We are a top property management company in Kansas City. We will work hard to address your concerns for peace of mind and maximum return on investment.