AIIC: Growing number of agents and landlords face filthy properties at check-out

Written by RLA

Since the introduction of tenant deposit protection in 2007, cleaning has been the no 1 cause of disputes and the problem is getting worse, according to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC). ..

Since the introduction of tenant deposit protection in 2007, cleaning has been the no 1 cause of disputes and the problem is getting worse, according to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC). 

The annual review by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) for 2012-13 highlights the types of disputes  and the most common cause of complaint brought by tenants is about cleaning, increasing from 49% in 2009 to 56% in 2013 and are now at their highest level since 2007.

Pat Barber, Chair of the Association of the AIIC comments: “We are seeing a sharp rise in the number of properties that require professional cleaning services at check-out and it is a growing problem.  There is a general lack of respect for property by tenants with a change in tenant’s hygiene standards.  Many tenants fail to leave their property in the same condition when they leave a property and we have seen many properties left in a filthy state.

“The main problems are dirty ovens and fridges; stains and marks on carpeting and flooring; bathrooms which have not been cleaned for months; and pet hair and excrement on floors, furniture and soft furnishings.

“At a recent check out, the property was left in a very poor condition. The tenants has left without paying the last month’s rent and it was obvious that they had not carried out any cleaning for the whole tenancy. The oven was dripping with grease with old food items left inside and the bathroom was extremely dirty, with heavy scale to all areas.  As well as being stained, the lounge carpet had a large area cut out in the centre and this was ‘hidden’ with a bath mat.

“Tenants are often shocked to realise that professional cleaning can cost anything from £10 – £20 per hour depending on the area and type of work required. Some tenants claim that cleaning issues are just normal wear & tear.

“The simple answer is that if an area or item was clean at check in it should be left clean at check-out. It something can be cleaned then it should be.  If any dust or crumbs are present then this is clearly not clean. A property should be vacated with no sign of previous occupation in terms of cleaning issues.

“According to the TDS, many tenants claim that the cleanliness of the property at the start of the tenancy was not clear, or that the tenancy agreement did not make clear what was expected of them. So it is vital that landlords and agents have a proper inventory prepared and do a thorough check-in and check-out, so they have the right proof of condition at the start and end of a new tenancy agreement.

“At the check-out stage, the tenant should be made aware of the areas requiring cleaning and the potential cost involved. It is important to remember that the tenant is only obliged to return the property in the same state of cleanliness as at the start of the tenancy, after allowing for fair wear and tear.”

AIIC has put together the most common cleaning problems at check-out:

  • Ovens – cause the most problems.  If it was listed as completely clean at check in, it must be left in the same condition. Burn marks to any part of the appliance means it is not clean. Tenants are amazed that professional oven cleaning costs between £50 – £80.
  • Stained and marked carpets – this is a very common problem with some tenants trying to hide stains with rugs and furniture.  Tenants are also known to cut out the stain and fill the hole with carpet they have cut from a hidden part of the property eg under the bed
  • Heavy lime scale to kitchen and bathroom fittings – the response of tenants is often ‘it’s not my fault, this is a hard water area’
  • Grease deposits throughout the kitchen, surfaces and cupboards may look clean but will feel sticky to touch.
  • Thick dust & cobwebs, particularly around furniture and on the ceilings


About the author



The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) represents the interests of landlords in the private rented sector (PRS) across England and Wales. With over 23,000 subscribing members, and an additional 16,000 registered guests who engage regularly with the association, we are the leading voice of private landlords. Combined, they manage almost half a million properties.


  • I think the easiest solution to this growing problem is to have all properties professionally cleaned at the start of each tenancy and then the property should be professionally cleaned the day of check out and this will be noted at check in and also check out.

  • Hi – Bruce, as an inventory clerk, I certainly push for professional cleaning at the start of a tenancy. However, it is becoming more frequent for even professionally cleaned properties to be left in a state that requires further cleaning. Often times the main problem is using a cleaning company from the internet that has not been vetted by an Agent/Landlord or prior experience. These companies are not set up to clean to an industry style standard – they lack the professional equipment and experience. This then causes issues as the tenants have in effect paid for cleaning which is not up to scratch. I cant tell you how many times I advise tenants to use Agent vetted cleaners, only to be ignored and then to be complained about when I advise the cleaning is simply not good enough or to the same standard as per check in. I do feel for the good landlords. They do have a hard time

  • The landlords are faced with having to pay for repairs and cleaning after. The tenants leave as the estate agents do lot carry proper checking out procedures. In addition, the ‘my deposit’ scheme always takes the side of the tenants, regardless of the proof provided by the landlords – it is unbelievable but a sad fact. Is there a way where landlords can report bad tenants who ruined the property or left it in disrepair? It would be good to create a data base to check tenants references for how they carded for the property throughout the tenancy! In Switzerland, normal deposit is 2.5 months rent and it is strictly responsibility of the tenant to professionally clean the property! And as a result, there almost never is a dirty or damaged property left at end of tenancy, which is totally the opposite to the situation in the UK.

  • I’ve rented for 5 years now , I check the itinerary careful , and leave the property in better condition than when I moved in ,been in 2 different properties a f they were disgusting had to go through the check list and make additional comments in order to cover myself for when I may eventually leave. Their are mass landlords who do t keep properties in good order and makes tennets feel , why bother as they get nothing in return or gave to wait months for stuff to be done

  • How about this: tenant pays landlord up front a non-returnable cleaning FEE to cater for professional cleaning when they move out. Maybe reduce the amount of the DEPOSIT in fairness to the tenant, who may not have budgeted for this.
    There is the risk that as tenant knows they’ve paid for cleaning, they’ll not bother doing anything for a few months towards end of tenancy, but then if someone can live like that whilst they’re “in situ”, they probably aren’t the types to roll their sleeves and up scrub the place beautifully for A.N.OTHER who’ll be moving in after they leave (or play ball and pay for a proper cleaning company – at best they’ll keep the mail out of a well meaning cleaner pushed through the letterbox and think they’ll be able to cope with end of tenancy mess and greasy ovens)

  • re my previous email, does anyone know the legal implications of charging this fee. One must never refer to it as a cleaning deposit, as that puts it in realms of the tenancy deposit schemes/legislation.
    As a landlord for over 30 years, I know that you can do or say what you like at the start of a tenancy, but if someone wants to scam you and not pay rent for 2 months or so once they want to move out anyway, the time and hassle trying to bring them to book is too costly for the landlord. On the day someone moves out, their priority is: transportation methods for own goods, plane schedules, schedules of their new landlord or vendor/estate agents, checking the cleanliness of the property they’re about to move into.

  • Now come ON! Tenants now have to pay £800 per month at least for a house share in London, because of landlords behaving like racketeers and reclaiming half of people’s salaries for rent, just because they can. Why further stigmatise tenants by pretending they are unclean?

    For a landlord, having a property cleaned is a small expense (and a tiny chunk of the £800 per room per month that they greedily amass). Tenants usually clean their properties when they leave but landlords often pretend it’s not clean enough and keep part of the deposit to dry clean curtains or some such excuse. For tenants, who work for a living, this represents a huge sum, equivalent to one or two days of work out of an already tiny budget. It’s simply revolting.

  • Having been a landlord for over 30 years, I have never pretended that a property is not clean enough for the next tenant. However, hundreds of times a so-called clean property has had to urgently be professionally cleaned (or done by us) . If anything, we have been overly easy going and just got on with it. We reduce the deposit amount to cover the cost of cleaning that we charge them for. Then on moving out day, they simply take their belongings and go. I can’t believe you are a landlord if you find tenants leave properties clean enough for the next person, or perhaps you are easy going in the standard, which is fine if incoming tenants are aware how things will or won’t be

  • I am a small landlord with 20yrs experience.
    We try to treat all our tenants fairly – too fairly at times.

    Most of our tenants left the place as clean as when they went in.
    We have just had elderly tenants of 5yrs with no rent increase leave the property to go to a dementia care home.

    The relatives baulked when asked to remove our bed, settee and carpets due to “accidents” and the flat smelt like a toilet.

    They then insisted that the deposit be returned because all the furnishings and carpet would normally be replaced after 5 years so we could not claim.

    The kitchen smells like a chip shop and all surfaces are greasy and sticky – even the underside of the table!

    Be great if there was a register but think black listing is illegal and against the tenants human rights – sod the rights of the person providing the roof.

    Rant over, if you have been, thanks for listening.

  • My son had spent £21000 upgrading his two bedroom flat with new kitchen and appliances . New bathroom suit and separate shower cubicle. New flooring throughout. Freshly painted throughout . New doors ,facings and skirting boards. Then decided he would move in with his girlfriend and rent out his flat . He hired an agent to look after things for him . The tenants rented it for two and a half years and have now given up the flat .The kitchen is dripping in grease the oven is disgusting.The sink is covered in grease and dried in food . The shower is filthy and covered in mould . Walls are covers in scuff marks and one wall has a boot print on it . They have been drying washing on the radiators causing mouldy patches and water marks on the walls around the radiators. It’s going to cost a lot more than the deposit to get it back to what it was . And a lot of hard work . How can they expect to get away with not loosing their deposit?? And the tenants were two police men !!!!

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