End of tenancy cleaning and inventory checklist

End of tenancy cleaning is the last opportunity for tenants and landlords to make sure that the tenancy ends smoothly and minimises any potential for a dispute, which is in everyone’s best interests.

This is also an important time for landlords as they must get the property ready for their new tenants, so it’s important to not leave anything up to chance.

Taking simple steps such as creating checklists can help this process, so we have compiled a helpful list of suggestions you can use to manage your tenants when it comes to end of tenancy cleaning. Having an inventory checklist is also useful to ensure that nothing is overlooked during this transition period.

It is best practice to try to complete both the check-in and check-out process together with your tenants. This way you’ll be able to talk face to face with your tenants about the property, your expectations of tenants, and iron out any immediate niggles. Taking a personal approach, if possible, will make tenants feel more responsible for the property from the start and hopefully help to reduce potential damage. Similarly, all documentation can be signed right there and then, minimising delays and misunderstandings.

A landlord inventory checklist should be prepared either before or at the check-in process, and agreed by both parties. This can be done by an agent, the landlord or an independent inventory clerk (sometimes this is the best option) as the checklist must be unbiased, professional, and comprehensive. The checklist should be accompanied by time stamped photographs and a full description of items and their condition. Once both parties have agreed and signed the checklist, both should have a good understanding of expectations. You can find more advice in our detailed ‘how to manage your inventory’ guide.

A good inventory checklist which covers the length of the tenancy will include:

  • A comprehensive list of exterior and interior condition, including contents, fixtures and fittings, décor, and all appliances
  • Meter readings, codes and alarm checks, list of keys
  • Full report, with photos, dated and signed by both parties
  • Mid-term property reports
  • Final inventory signed by all parties

Following this checklist should minimise any potential for disputes, allow for constructive negotiation where needed at the end, and make the tenancy process more pleasant for all involved.

End of tenancy cleaning is usually the responsibility of the tenant, but the standard that is expected isn’t always clear to everyone involved. In fact, misunderstandings relating to the standard of cleaning required at the end of the tenancy is the leading cause for disputes.

Following the checklist below, and even offering this information to your tenants in a ‘re-end of tenancy guide’ should help avoid any misunderstandings.

Here are some of the areas to mention to your tenants, and keep at the forefront of your mind, when thinking about end of tenancy cleaning:

  • Curtains
  • Fridge/freezer
  • Carpets
  • Skirting boards
  • Kitchen cupboards
  • Front door/doors
  • Behind furniture
  • Bathroom fittings and limescale
  • Oven and hob
  • Lighting fittings
  • Window seals

Whilst this list is not comprehensive, it does include the main areas people often miss or sufficiently clean. This may lead to a need for professional help, or at the extreme, costly replacements. Tenants may choose to complete end of tenancy cleaning themselves, but it is important to emphasise  that the standard required will be ‘exactly’ the same as when they moved in. The place must be habitable and pleasant for the next tenant, who would not want to come across any evidence of the previous occupant of the property.

It is good practice for landlords to recommend to their tenant a reputable end of tenancy cleaning company. It is especially beneficial if the landlord has used the company in the past and is able to trust the work of that cleaning company, however they cannot insist on the tenant using that company.

Finally, it is  always best to be prepared for the unexpected. Even with all the checklists and checks in place, sometimes things go wrong and can’t be fixed with a good hard scrub. The best precaution in cases like these is to take out residential landlord insurance, which protects the property owner against financial losses suffered in connection to a rental property.

Hamilton Fraser’s award winning landlord insurance has been providing comprehensive cover for landlords since 1996.

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