Landlords’ evidence doesn’t wash in most cleaning cases

Disagreements between landlords and tenants over cleaning appear in over half of the disputes handled by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Yet despite being the most common cause of dispute, gathering good evidence for these cases remains a challenge for many landlords and agents.

To investigate, TDS reviewed all cleaning disputes on which it adjudicated over a four week period. In 98% of cases, the award made was less than the original amount claimed.

Why are so few landlords gaining the full amount they claim? Several reasons emerged…

  • 43% of landlords or agents did not supply any invoices or estimates. This meant that there was no evidence to support the actual amount they were trying to claim, leaving the adjudicator to make their own assessment of what was reasonable.
  • Where invoices and estimates were supplied many lacked a breakdown of costs to show what the amount charged was actually paying for. Some covered costs for items not mentioned in the check out report.
  • Some claims covered things which already needed cleaning at check in. A full award would have meant betterment of the property at the cost of the tenant.
  • When comparing the condition of the property at the start and end of the tenancy, the amount being claimed by the landlord was more than what the tenant should reasonably be expected to pay – for example, where cleaning claimed for was not identified in the check out report.

Tenants are liable for leaving the property in the condition in which they found it, allowing for fair wear and tear. If you want to deduct an amount from the deposit, be realistic in the amount and make sure you have kept all the necessary paperwork to back up your claim.

You can find case studies of cleaning disputes here on our case studies section and in our monthly adjudication digest.

All TDS adjudicators are members of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and work to high standards.