From time to time I get asked about dirty tenants. “My tenants are keeping my house in an absolute mess” one outraged landllord said, “what can I do about it?”
I’ve seen all sorts of attempts by landlords to deal with this.
- There was the landlord whose tenancy agreement provided for tenants to wipe down the kitchen surfaces daily
- There was the elderly female landlord who harranged her student tenants, intimidating them into doing more dusting
- And there was the landlord who employed a cleaner to go in and clean the house and then charged the tenants for it
However none of these were legal.
- the tenancy agreement clause would have been void under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999
- The elderly landlord was guilty of harassment (although I think the students just complained about her to the students accommodation office), and
- the landlord who arranged for the cleaner ended up having to pay for it himself
When you rent a property to a tenant, effectively they own it for the period of their tenancy. You, the landlord, are not entitled to go in and demand that they keep it to your standard of cleanliness. If they want to live in a mess, thats up to them. Its their home after all.
Your remedy is when they leave. If the property is left in a filthy state, this would probably justify your using professional cleaners and claiming the cost from the deposit.
Also of course if you are unhappy with them as tenants, you can serve a section 21 notice and refuse to allow them to stay in the property after the end of the fixed term.
I suppose the only time you would be entitled to actually do something would be if the property was being kept in such a poor state that it was actually affecting the fabric of the building. In those circumstances you might be able to persuade a Judge to give you an injunction.
But if they are only leaving the place in a bit of a mess, you will just have to put up with it, and hope to find some better tenants after they have gone.