A person holding cleaning products.

As a landlord, the turnover period between tenants is crucial for maintaining the value of your property and ensuring a pleasant start for new occupants. A significant aspect of this process is the end of tenancy cleaning. While it might seem straightforward, understanding your rights and responsibilities around this task is essential for a smooth transition. Here, we take a look at an end of a tenancy cleaning guide for landlords.

A tenant holding a cleaning bucket. 

Understanding landlord responsibilities

There are a few things that you can do to ensure that your tenants know what is expected of both yourself and them at the end of the tenancy when it comes to cleaning the property. 

  • Setting expectations: Clear communication is key. Ensure your tenancy agreement explicitly states the property’s expected condition upon departure, including cleaning standards. This avoids ambiguity and sets a clear expectation for tenants.
  • Professional cleaning: Decide early on if you require professional cleaning services at the end of the tenancy. If so, this should be mentioned in the lease agreement. Remember, insisting on professional cleaning is reasonable only if it’s to return the property to a condition noted in an inventory at the start of the tenancy.
  • Providing a clean slate: Ensure that the property is cleaned immaculately at the beginning of the tenancy. This sets a benchmark and perfectly communicates your expectations for how you’d like the property returned at the end of the tenancy.

Tenant responsibilities

During the tenancy agreement, there is no legal obligation for tenants to keep the property clean, although this would make things a lot easier for when the tenancy ends. So, what are the responsibilities of your tenants when it comes to cleaning your property at the end of a tenancy?

  • Returning the property in good condition: Tenants are generally expected to return the property in a similar condition to when they moved in, accounting for fair wear and tear. This means a thorough clean is often necessary to recover their full deposit.
  • Following the agreement: If your lease specifies professional cleaning, tenants are obliged to comply. However, if the tenancy agreement doesn’t specify this, tenants can opt to do the cleaning themselves, provided they meet the agreed-upon standards.

Navigating Disputes

There may be disputes between yourself and the tenants at the end of the tenancy because you may feel that the property has not been well-maintained or cleaned appropriately. There are certain things that you can implement, however, to mitigate this and to ensure that both parties are on the same page. 

Inventory reports

A detailed inventory report at the start and end of the tenancy can prevent disputes over maintenance and the cleanliness of the property. This report should note the property’s condition and cleanliness for both parties to agree upon, setting the expectations from the outset.

Fair wear and tear

It’s crucial to distinguish between what constitutes fair wear and tear versus damage or neglect. Normal wear is expected, and landlords cannot deduct money for basic cleaning if the property was in a similar condition at the start of the tenancy. 

There needs to be a clear distinction between the two so that tenants are not left confused at the beginning of the tenancy agreement. 

Deposit deductions

If cleaning standards are not met, and it has been covered within the lease agreement from the start, you are entitled to deduct costs from the security deposit to make sure the property is properly cleaned or any damages are fixed. Be sure to provide detailed receipts and justifications for any deductions to avoid disputes.

Best practices for landlords

So, how can you make sure that you’re holding up your end of the bargain? There are a few best practices that you can implement to make the end-of-tenancy cleaning process easier for all parties involved. 

  • Pre-tenancy cleaning: Always present your property in the best possible light. A professional clean before the move-in sets the standard and contributes to a good landlord-tenant relationship.
  • Clear cleaning guidelines: Provide tenants with a cleaning checklist at the end of their tenancy. This can help guide their efforts and ensure all areas are covered.
  • Choosing professional services: If you prefer professional cleaning, consider offering recommendations or arranging the service yourself, factoring the cost into the tenancy agreement or the deposit deductions with prior agreement.
  • Documentation and photos: Before and after photos, alongside inventory reports, are invaluable. They offer clear evidence should any disputes arise regarding the property’s condition.

End of tenancy cleaning guide

To make it easier for you as a landlord, we have put together a cleaning checklist that you can utilise with your tenants at the end of the tenancy. 

Before you start

Your goal is to make the property as inviting as possible to attract potential renters. The first impression counts, and as mentioned before, sets the bar for your tenants. 

Walls, doors, and ceilings 

When cleaning walls, doors and ceilings, remember that:

  • Skirting boards need a good wipe down too.
  • For glistening windows and mirrors, a bit of old newspaper works wonders for a smear-free finish.
  • Dust and clean window sills and frames.
  • Touch up any scuff marks on the walls with paint, or give them a good scrub.
  • Shine up light switches and electrical sockets.
  • Get rid of cobwebs from ceilings with a long-handled duster.
  • Clean door surfaces and handles thoroughly.

Fixtures, fittings, and furnishings

Avoid any “dust test” fails by paying close attention to:

  • Sofa cushions – take them outside for a good beating to get rid of trapped dust.
  • Sofas – vacuum thoroughly once cushions are removed.
  • Inside drawers and cupboards.
  • The tops of wardrobes, shelves, and cupboards.
  • Mirror tops, picture frames, and curtain rails.
  • Light fittings, lampshades, and bulbs
  • Tables, desks, and sideboards.


Aim for sparkle and shine:

  • Shower trays, doors, and heads should be limescale-free and shining.
  • Don’t forget to wipe down radiators or shower rails.
  • Unblock sinks and baths as needed.
  • Dust extractor fans thoroughly.
  • Basins, taps, and fittings should be cleaned and polished.
  • Tackle the bathtub with special attention to limescale or hard water stains.
  • The toilet needs a thorough clean with disinfectant and a bit of elbow grease.
  • Scrub tiles and grout clean, using an old toothbrush for tough spots.


Given its frequent use, the kitchen demands extra attention:

  • Empty and clean the fridge/freezer, bins, and extractor fan filter.
  • Cupboards and drawers should be emptied and wiped clean.
  • Deep clean the hob, oven, worktops, and countertops.
  • Shine up the sink and taps, being mindful of scratches on stainless steel.
  • Don’t forget the microwave, toaster, and kettle.


If the house has carpets, a good idea would be to steam clean them to ensure any stubborn stains are removed. There are also carpet cleaning machines that you can rent out, too, to help with this. 

Outside areas

First impressions count, so ensure the exterior is welcoming:

  • Sweep patios or decking areas and consider a jet wash for tough stains.
  • Clear any rubbish, clean bins, and tidy up lawns and flowerbeds.

By making sure that you supply this checklist to your tenants at the start of the tenancy, you can set the expectation for the standard at which your property needs to be cleaned. 

The end of a tenancy is a critical time for landlords, with cleaning being a central element in ensuring a smooth transition between tenants. By understanding and adhering to your rights and responsibilities, and by communicating clearly with your tenants, you can avoid misunderstandings and ensure your property is cared for properly. 

Remember, a well-maintained property not only attracts the best tenants but also maintains its value in the long run. 

Make sure to get in touch with our friendly team at CIA Landlords on 01788 818 670 for more information on buy-to-let insurance!

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