Spilling the dirt: How cleaning issues may not be the tenant’s fault

Here, we look at an adjudicator’s approach to outstanding cleaning at the end of the tenancy

Amount of deposit in dispute                  £72.00          

Award to tenant                                          £72.00                                                          

Award to agent (on behalf of landlord) £00.00

There was a dispute at the end of the tenancy about outstanding cleaning where a professional contractor had been involved.

The evidence showed that the tenants had chosen and instructed a professional cleaning contractor to carry out a clean at the end of the tenancy, from a list of recommended contractors provided by the agent, on their end of tenancy check list.

Unusually, at the end of the list, the agent had commented that the advantage to using one of the listed contractors was that in the event there were cleaning issues identified at the check-out inspection, the cleaner would address this free of charge.

It went on to state that the listed professional cleaning contractors were trusted to re-attend without supervision.

The tenants employed the services of one of the contractors. However, the check-out report showed that some cleaning had not been done.

The inventory showed that the property had been professionally cleaned for the start of the tenancy.

The tenants submitted email correspondence with the agent following the check-out, in which the cleaning omissions were highlighted.

The agent acknowledged the tenants’ email and confirmed that they would contact the contractor and ‘sort it’ to ensure that the cleaning oversights were rectified.

The adjudicator concluded in the particular circumstances of this case that the tenants should not meet the cost of any further cleaning.

So what are the key points here?

A tenant would usually be responsible for ensuring that a contractor they used completed their work satisfactorily, and to compensate the landlord for any unmet loss.

However, where an agent has effectively guaranteed that the work would be carried out satisfactorily, and if not any further attendance to rectify omissions would be no cost to the tenants, and furthermore accepted that they would deal with any follow up work directly with the contractor, it is reasonable that the tenant should rely on that assurance.

Any remaining issues are therefore between the agent and the landlord.

The same argument would not apply if the contractor themselves guaranteed directly to the tenant that they would return to complete any outstanding work. If they failed to do so, the tenant would still need to compensate the landlord for the outstanding work.


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  1. Beano

    A particularly pointless example of the work carried out by the adjudicator if i may say so. Perhaps we could have some more meaningful examples of how they work; particularly how they always seem to side with the tenant even where the evidence is strongly against them…..

    1. MF

      I think often the problem is how and what evidence is presented to the adjudicator.

      Have you ever attended the TDS Academy? I can highly recommend it through personal experience. I now have fewer cases even reaching an adjudicator – and when they do, our win rate is very high.

      1. Beano

        Thanks, I have made changes to the way I do things to cater for my earliest experiences. For example they believed a tenant when she said ‘a neighbour had removed the table, when I had to deal with this as they hadn’t. (It was the most straightforward and cost effective way for me to remove it within the timescales). There were photos showing the item on check out, but of course the neighbour had made an arrangement with the tenant!

        They also required me to ‘prove the tenant hadn’t paid the rent’ which I was deducting from the deposit.

        I also find that their estimates on job costings -taking into account reasonable wear and tear- are often unrealistic. Fortunately I haven’t had many dealings with the adjudicator, but those that I have had have not left me very satisfied.

        1. MF

          I think TDS Academy will help you avoid problems with any of those scenarios 🙂

          On the point about adjudicators assessing wear and tear, I have also experienced that different adjudicators seem to have different opinions as to how much should or should not be allowed. Some seem, in my opinion, to be rather too lenient in the tenant’s favour. But I guess that’s the nature of adjudication. Just like when you go to court, most of the time even experienced barristers, who’ve read the same documents and got the same information that the judge will have, cannot correctly predict what the judge’s decision will be.


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