As recent tax changes mean landlords may lose out on profit, how can you keep the costs of renting out properties down and ensure you maximise value and profits?
As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your property is up to the best possible standard when new tenants move in. Having a well-finished property not only allows you to get the best possible price from your tenants, but it also builds a level of trust within the renters. With a clean property, you set an expectation that residents must leave it in the same state that they found it. If you take care of the property, there is an unwritten understanding that they will look after the property too.
One way of ensuring a beautifully presented property is by hiring professional cleaners for a spot of end of tenancy cleaning. You can either choose the cleaning company directly or use a letting agent to organise a cleaning service.
Is time or cost worth more?
Many landlords choose to use letting agents to manage their properties for convenience. Letting agents will do all the legwork, but this comes at a premium. However, what most landlords assume is that by using a letting agent or management service that you don’t have control in regards to the cost of services needed.
While a letting agent may be useful in marketing your property and completing the legal necessities, you do not have to use them for every aspect. For aspects you are confident with, you can take control and save a considerable amount of money.
Cleaning and repairing are two aspects of managing a property that can be easily administered by a landlord, particularly with the right know-how. Letting agents capitalise on homeowners lack of confidence and lack of time leading to unnecessary costs, what’s worse, some agents will even exploit this to rip you off.
The problem for most landlords in the UK is that there’s no standard service level agreement between a letting agent and the owner. This means that the level of service and costs will vary from one letting agent to another. Many landlords, especially those new to letting agent, will often end paying more than needed. This is why choosing a cleaning company yourself is a better choice than leaving it to your letting agent.
Is the end of tenancy cleaning that important?
To succeed at landlording, you need to know the facts.
First, here is what you should be aware of the end of tenancy cleaning. Tenants are fully in charge of daily maintenance and cleaning of the property. There are often held liable in case they let the lack of proper cleaning cause the spread of health diseases, mould and pest infestation. Getting rid of such diseases, fungus and parasites are costly, and renters are held accountable; not landlords.
The driveway, patio, and the garden are assigned to the tenant as well in most instances. So when doing a check in inspection confirm if these areas are under the tenant’s responsibility.
In shared buildings, cleaning duties for communal areas are often the responsibility of the landlord. Also, some specialised cleaning services are considered the responsibility of the owner. For instance, gutter cleaning should be the owner’s care.
Cleaning is the responsibility of the tenants, and the responsibility states that when renters return the keys to the landlord, the property should be as clean as when they moved in.
End of tenancy cleaning ensures a high level clean that sets a precedent for the next tenants and ensures that the level of cleaning expected never slips below an excellent standard. While a professional clean may seem expensive, consider it insurance, making sure your tenants keep it at that level and reducing the risk of expensive cleaning and repairs later on.
How much does cleaning cost?
Sometimes, paying for a cleaning service at the end of the tenancy is deemed unfair by tenants. Especially if it is unclear or vague about the extent of cleaning involved, or the basis on which the cleaning money will be demanded. Such charges are fair if they are limited only to a reasonable amount for failing to maintain the property properly.
Importance of the end of tenancy cleaning
According to the Deposit Protection Scheme, around 56% of deposit disputes are caused by insufficient cleaning. Inflicted damage is second at 43%. In most cases, if a tenant has not performed the end of tenancy cleaning before moving out, the landlord will hire a cleaning company, and the bill will be discounted from the tenant’s deposit. Unfortunately for landlords, the Tenancy Deposit Scheme usually favours tenants over landlords and proving that the clean is not up to standard takes a tremendous amount of proof, leaving the tenancy on a sour note.
If the cleaning condition is not disputed by the tenant, landlords can instruct a professional clean and claim the money from the deposit. However, a landlord should not deduct more than the cost of the cleaning service, and a receipt will be needed as proof that the cleaning has been paid. A tenant should request to see this approving the deposit deduction.
A tenant may also choose to pay for a professional cleaner themselves, for peace of mind that they won’t be charged over the odds, or be charged an administration fee.
Some landlords hire the end of tenancy cleaning companies before the tenants move in. This is often to set a high standard that will be expected when tenants are moving out.
How letting agents scam landlords
According to the firm, Aspect, the practice by which letting agents pass over the actual costs to landlords but then, without the landlord being informed, charge the cleaning company a commission, is a big letting agent scam that should be exposed. The firm says that the government move to make the letting agents join an ombudsman scheme won’t protect the landlords from rip-offs.
Furthermore, some agents charge a lot of commission when they’ve hit the target on the total amount they’ve invoiced the landlords.
The National Landlords Association states that a ‘typical’ property should have a budget of around 10% of their rental income on maintenance services such as cleaning. But according to them, some landlords are paying more than they need for these. Agents often apply markups of approximately
20%. However, many landlords are paying higher hidden costs on the cleaning services done on the properties.
Some industry professionals used anonymous shoppers to identify a particular sinister price gouging operation which saw a good number of letting agents saying that the contractors paid back 60% of the fee, unknown to the landlord. The contractors usually oblige since they expect to get more work from that agency. However, for landlords, this means that the prices are incredibly high and they’re likely to receive lower quality work. This also means that more money ends in the agent’s pocket. For instance, a landlord paying £120 for a repair job could be paying £90 to the letting agent for making sure the problem is fixed, and the contractor gets £30.
When an agent calls for a cleaning service, always consider these three thoughts:
- Understand what you are paying for
- Know that you are not legally obligated to address all repair, cleaning, or maintenance issues
- Don’t be a ‘Yes Man.’
Understanding letting agent costs
To avoid unnecessary costs, as a landlord, you should be fully aware of the fees incurred for hiring cleaning services in the UK and using letting agents to do so and the amount of cash you can save by going directly. To understand these charges and fees; shop around. Most letting agents will have their prices available to see, make sure you know the cost and how they compare to others on the market.
We also understand how the costs of cleaning can vary considerably across the UK, so if you own lots of properties across the UK, our service means you can find a local business to your property without spending the excess on the national firms.
Compare Quotes on Service Octopus
At Service Octopus, we understand how important it is for landlords to save money and still receive a high-quality service. We also understand that you don’t have time to trawl through cleaning companies and waste time with ringing or emailing for quotes. You need answers right away to make managing the cleaning a breeze.
Just input the service you require, the date and location and Service Octopus will instantly bring up the cleaning companies available to you with their prices listed. You decide which company you’d like to do and book.
No more expensive letting agent markups.
No more lengthy phone calls and website trawling.
Just hassle-free price comparison with an easy and secure booking service.
Get back to what you enjoy and let your properties bring you the maximum profit possible.©LandlordZONE® – legal content applies primarily to England and is not a definitive statement of the law, always seek professional advice.