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hotmuva
26-07-2005, 19:54 PM
Hope you guys/gals can help decide whether this is worth pursuing or not. Basically is a professional cleaning contract enforceable if the check out clerk didn't state one way or the other? Here's the details:

Tenant has recently moved out of my property (was in for two years and was good payer)

Contract clause says that on exit "flat should be cleaned to a professional standard". Check out clerk to state on the report whether it was professionally cleaned or not. The original inventory also states that the carpets and upholstery should be professionally cleaned on exit.

Report came back with no comments related to professional clean (it was clean but things like cooker hood not cleaned etc etc)

I then inspected and found that the carpet had not been cleaned (referred to as "shaded" in the report). Flat had definitely not been professionally cleaned (limescale in shower...not mentioned in the check out). I've taken photos showing before and after of the carpets.

Old tenant is now refusing to pay for the cost of the carpet cleaning £130 for a 1000sqft flat. Agent still holds this from the deposit. Tenant is seeking Legal advice and talking to ARLA !

With the check out clerk not clearly stating whether a professional clean had been done where does that leave me?

Thanks for all your help

Hot

MrShed
26-07-2005, 20:08 PM
From the tenants point of view, I am fighting my previous landlord on the same basis. Did you have the property professionally cleaned prior to them moving in? And can you prove this? I, personally(although perhaps not legally), believe that it is unfair for the landlord to expect the tenant to professionally clean a property, as long as it is clean to a good standard, then if the landlord wishes to have it immaculate, he can do so, but at his cost. Anyways, this is besides the point....if you can prove it was professionally cleaned prior to their tenancy you should be able to justify a full professional cleaning cost, I think.

hotmuva
27-07-2005, 10:33 AM
Mr. Shed, did you sign an agreement which enforced you to "professional cleaning"?

In my case the property was new when the tenant moved in. i.e. new carpets, nothing had been used before and the flat had been cleaned. When the tenant moved out the carpet in one of the rooms was in a real state (but unfortunately the check out clerk chose to list it as heavy shading). The area I'm letting in you can't get away with a "clean" you need to have it professionally done.

Really what I'm trying to find out is if Professionally Cleaned can be enforced if it's in a contract.

MrShed
27-07-2005, 10:57 AM
No, I didnt. But what I'm saying is I very much doubt it will be enforcable unless you can prove it was clean to a professional standard prior to the tenancy.

mjpl
27-07-2005, 13:21 PM
If your agent holds the deposit as stakeholder you are not going to be able to force anything as the tenant will refuse to agree and some form of arbitration may become necessary.

This may not be what you want to hear but if the tenant was in for two years and was a good payer, I imagine you have taken a very significant total figure in rent.

You also have to bear in mind that it is absolutely impossible to return a new build apartment as still new. The first tenancy always has the most obvious dilapidation but is not necessarily the tenants fault.

You mention that your area requires professional cleaning, if that is the case I imagine the rents are high and it may be sensible to just grin and bear the cost yourself. Alternatively tell the agent to speak to the tenant and ask what they would consider paying towards the costs.

MCRockstarr
27-07-2005, 14:52 PM
Hotmuva

I would always advise against a clause stating that cleaning should be carried out to a professional standard as this is open to interpretation and therefore not easy to enforce.

If you insist on your tenant having the property professionally cleaned, you should include a clause which reads something like "The tenant shall leave the property in the same condition and state of cleanliness as it was at the commencement of the tenancy (fair wear and tear excepted) and shall have the property professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy and shall provide the landlord or his agent with a written receipt/invoice from the cleaning contractor."

This way, there is no doubt that the property has been professionally cleaned if you receive an invoice/receipt and if the tenant cannot produce one then you can deduct a sum from the deposit to cover the costs of a professional clean.

dazalock
27-07-2005, 15:26 PM
Mr. Shed, did you sign an agreement which enforced you to "professional cleaning"?



I don’t think it matters what it says in your agreement, if the term is deemed unfair, then you wont be able to enforce it.

I agree with others on this thread, as a landlord, if they have been good tenants and the only issue is they haven’t been as meticulous as you may have liked, I feel you are being over zealous, and should accept that you may have to get the marigolds on to get it back upto scratch. But thats just my opinion.

PaulF
27-07-2005, 15:40 PM
Hotmuva

I would always advise against a clause stating that cleaning should be carried out to a professional standard as this is open to interpretation and therefore not easy to enforce. Quite right! BUT you can have a clause to say that if evidence is produced by the landlord to show the property was cleaned by a proprietory cleaning company BEFORE the tenant took up occupation, (i.e. a firm who exlusively carry out such work to a recognised standard), and that you require the tenant to do the same on departure then that's fine and is very, very different to what you have said.

If you insist on your tenant having the property professionally cleaned, you should include a clause which reads something like "The tenant shall leave the property in the same condition and state of cleanliness as it was at the commencement of the tenancy - but you don't say how this is to be established! (fair wear and tear excepted) and shall have the property professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy and shall provide the landlord or his agent with a written receipt/invoice from the cleaning contractor." It is inadvisable to use the word "professional" and should be replaced by "proprietory cleaning company" as has been clarified by me in the above paragraph, and no!, this clause would still be no good as per my comment!

This way, there is no doubt that the property has been professionally cleaned if you receive an invoice/receipt and if the tenant cannot produce one then you can deduct a sum from the deposit to cover the costs of a professional clean.Err........no it doesn't, and you can't!So now you should see the necessity of good clear wording in all AST's as this is why so many disputes arise. The wording I suggest above is not open to intepretation I feel! Anybody disagree?

MCRockstarr
27-07-2005, 16:18 PM
Paul

Whilst I take on board your comments in response to my post, I would make the following points:

1) To demand the tenant have a property professionally cleaned at the end of a tenancy is not an unfair term, even if the landlord has not done so himself prior to the commencement, (providing the inventory or check in report states that the property was clean and tidy prior to the tenant taking occupation). You also have to remember that there are different standards of professional clean (ie, light clean, deep clean inc carpets etc). My clause states that even though the property must be professionally cleaned, it must only be cleaned to the the same standard as at the beginning of the tenancy.

2) "but you don't say how this should be established!' Point taken. The clause should have included "as stated in the inventory" or "as stated in the check-in report"

3) 'Professional - One who earns a living in a given or implied occupation:' ie: hired a professional to clean the house. "Professionally cleaned" means hiring a professional property cleaner (or other engaging in a given activity as a source of livelihood or as a career) to clean the property.

Whilst I understand your reservations about using the term "professionally cleaned" it is certainly not incorrect to do so.

MCR

mjpl
27-07-2005, 16:36 PM
1) To demand the tenant have a property professionally cleaned at the end of a tenancy is not an unfair term, even if the landlord has not done so himself prior to the commencement, (providing the inventory or check in report states that the property was clean and tidy prior to the tenant taking occupation). You also have to remember that there are different standards of professional clean (ie, light clean, deep clean inc carpets etc). My clause states that even though the property must be professionally cleaned, it must only be cleaned to the the same standard as at the beginning of the tenancy.

I disagree with this comment. You cannot force the tenant to an expense for no reason. Why would it be fair for the landlord to be able to clean the property personally to a certain standard but not for the tenant to do the same.

PaulF
27-07-2005, 16:41 PM
In reply to your posts:-

1. You're wrong and legal opinion says so! I've recently been involved in a judge's ruling on that very point, and have more than one testimony from specialist solicitors & barristers far more knowlegable than I!

3. You've missed my point entirely - is my term clearer or not? - I'm trying to establish clarity, because as you say the term "profesisonally cleaned" is indeed open to interpretation, and the tenant has a right for all clauses to be written in "plain unequivocal language that is as far as possible not open to interpretation". Who says? The OFT!

MCRockstarr
27-07-2005, 16:47 PM
"I disagree with this comment. You cannot force the tenant to an expense for no reason. Why would it be fair for the landlord to be able to clean the property personally to a certain standard but not for the tenant to do the same. "

You would not be forcing an expense on the tenant for no reason. The landlord would simply be trying to ensure that the property is cleaned to a high standard. If the tenants have maintined the property well, this would only be a 'light clean'. This is also very relevant where there are pets kept at the property.

Although we all have our own thoughts on this issue, it really comes down to whether a court would find the clause fair. Although I believe it would, I suppose it would be down to someone who's "been there, done that" to clarify.

mjpl
27-07-2005, 16:54 PM
If I had been a model tenant and the property only needed a slight clean I would do it myself. I would certainly not pay to have a contractor trun up and vacum a floor while I stand there.

Equally if a Landlord does not have to pay for a property to be cleaned before I move in, I do not have to pay for it to be cleaned on the way out. All I have to do is return it in the same condition that I took it excepting for FW&T.

MCRockstarr
27-07-2005, 16:56 PM
Paul

1) See my last post! If a judge says it's unfair then i'd have to agree it's unfair. <quickly amends clause in his tenancy agreements> :o(

3) I said "professional standard" is open to interpretation. However, I do still feel both terms are clear and would satisy the OFT.

hotmuva
28-07-2005, 16:15 PM
Thanks for all your comments, will have to speak to my letting agenst about "proprietry cleaning company" wording in future.

A few comments from me to MJLP (and others) regarding "Light cleaning" and effectively letting the tenant off if he's paid on time.

It's not about a bit of a dust round and a hoover. It's about getting the carpets steam cleaned after two years of use. The carpets are worn (I'm not asking him to pay for that as it's Wear and Tear)....but they were dirty and I do expect him to pay for them to be cleaned

I don't "stand there" and watch someone else hoover. Unfortunately I've got a job which I'm at 10 hours a day, last thing I want is to have to clean a flat that the tenant should have done.

Professional cleaning may mean high rents but unfortunately don't mean high profits. Anyone trying to survive in London knows that yields are low. Every oenny (OK maybe pound) counts...this is a business I'm trying to run.

Thanks

Hot

PaulF
28-07-2005, 16:36 PM
You've just brought another parameter into this. You say the carpets were "worn" from two years' use. Fair enough, but of what quality were they in the first place? Cheap carpeting is not going to last too long in a rented property and that's reflected in the price you pay. Asking a tenant to have the carpets cleaned is fine but is it going to make that much of a difference when they have been if they are of the "cheap & cheerful" type. Ask yourself, is it fair and reasonable on the outgoing tenant to pay for their cleaning, when the cost might be better put towards some new floor coverings (with the tenant's agreement by the way)?

If on the other hand they are good quality carpets with a lifespan of say 5-10 years (you'll be lucky to get near the latter figure!) and cleaning will restore them to an acceptable degree for an incoming tenant then it's a judgement call!

mjpl
28-07-2005, 16:54 PM
I think you misunderstood my post. My response was to McRockstarr about the professional cleaning not you and I was putting myself in the tenants position which has moved away from the original point.

If the property has not been cleaned by the outgoing tenant then of course you can ask for a charge for it to be cleaned. My answer was to an earlier post that suggested all tenants should have a property professionally cleaned at the termination even if the Landlord did not do so at the commencement. An unenforceable clause if ever there was one.

The original tenancy agreement no doubt makes mention of the inventory. It may state that both parties must abide by the check out report. If it does and the check out report is as ambiguous as you say it is, you will be breaching the terms of your own agreement.

My comments regarding bearing the cost of the clean are down to personal taste. Lets say a property is £250 a week and a tenant stays for two years, the Landlord will receive the grand total of £26,000. It seems a lot of effort to be sued by tenants for a £130 clean.

zoe
28-07-2005, 19:54 PM
Ask yourself, is it fair and reasonable on the outgoing tenant to pay for their cleaning, when the cost might be better put towards some new floor coverings (with the tenant's agreement by the way)?

Paul F

Why would the tenant in this case be asked to contribute towards new carpets, when all they need to do is contribute towards cleaning or to be given the chance to clean them themselves. If the LL is going to replace the carpets the tenant should not be charged anything.

Zoe