How to avoid carpet cleaning disputes – guidelines for landlords and tenants Pt 1

Carpet cleaning is one of the most common causes of disputes between landlords and tenants and along with the general cleaning of the property it accounts for 22 per cent of all dispute cases. The following should help provide clarity on what is reasonable:


1. Cleanliness is subjective, what one person considers clean may not necessarily be considered clean by another person.


2. As a matter of normal practice in short lets, reflecting the common law, tenants are expected to return the property in as good and clean a condition as it was when they received it, fair wear and tear excepted.


3. The Competition and Markets Authority object to terms that could be used to make the tenant pay for the property to be cleaned to a higher standard than it was in at the start of the tenancy, or that require cleaning regardless of whether or not this is necessary for the tenant to comply with their normal obligations with regard to the state of the property. Reference: Section 4.8 of Guidance on unfair terms in tenancy agreements here


4. Expecting the property to be cleaned a higher standard than it was at the start of the tenancy could be considered to be betterment – something the landlord is not entitled to.


5. Without employing techniques typically used in forensic science you can never be 100% sure the property is returned in as clean a condition as it was at the start of the tenancy so allow some degree of latitude when assessing cleaning.


6. Terms that insist that a particular company, piece of equipment, cleaning technique or cleaning product is used would be difficult to enforce firstly from a practical standpoint – how could you be 100% sure the prescribed technique was employed and what happens where the specified product is not available or the specified company is no longer trading at the end of the tenancy? More importantly such terms may be considered unfair as they are too prescriptive and ignore the underlying principle that tenants are only expected to return the property in as clean a condition as it was at the start of the tenancy and ‘how’ the tenant achieves this is a choice for the tenant.


7. If the landlord is adamant that the tenant cleans the carpets in a specific way at the end of the tenancy then they must make this a special clause of the tenancy agreement – set out separately from the rest of the standard clauses and as such ‘specially negotiated’ and typically shown in a Special Conditions section of the tenancy agreement.


To be continued here

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