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Does the landlord have to wait for the former tenant to agree before cleaning flat?

tulips windowHere is a problem submitted to the Blog Clinic by Vanessa (not her real name) who is a landlord:

I have a new tenant waiting via a new agent. My old tenant left a few days ago, but has damaged the property and left it filthy. I cannot afford to have a delay – and may lose my new tenant. My old agent is insisting that any work or cleaning has to be agreed by the tenant, before it goes ahead. But he is now abroad and unlikely to be bothered to get back to us anytime soon.

Surely I can arrange to get the cleaning done myself? I have taken photos as evidence.The deposit will then be withheld in due course…?

It would be interesting to know whether the old agents would have a different attitude if they were the ones supplying the new tenant!

So long as you have clear evidence to show the damage done by your former tenant, I don’t see any reason why you should not get the cleaning done and the new tenant in.

If you are looking to claim against the deposit you will need to prove the condition of the property at the time of the old tenants departure AND prove that this was worse than when they went in.  I hope your old agent has a valid inventory form signed by the old tenant.

If not, then this may be another reason why they are so anxious that any work is agreed …

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3 Responses to Does the landlord have to wait for the former tenant to agree before cleaning flat?

  1. QUOTE: If not, then this may be another reason why they are so anxious that any work is agreed … ENDQUOTE

    It would indeed be interesting to see if they have a thorough inventory signed. Yesterday, (Yes it was a Sunday), we checked in a Polish tenant to a flat for one of our landlords. The inventory was 58 pages long with every single blemish recorded along with photographs. The new tenant (and his brother in law acting as interpreter) were very impressed. Their last agent left them with a 4 page inventory saying the previous flat was in “good decorative order” and refused to note some damage on the walls.

    If I were you I would take some photographs of the un-cleanliness and deduct the costs of cleaning from the deposit. The damage will always be argued and without a thorough inventory you may lose that argument, but is worth a go. But if the tenant was in there for 6 months (the minimum period for an ast)then it will be very hard for them, or the old agent, to say that the tenant was not responsible for the cleanliness, especially as it should be written into the ast.

    Did you get a notification of where the deposit was held? If it is held in the DPS for example there is an Alternative Dispute Resolution Service (PDF Download)which may be of interest

    Hope you get it sorted

  2. DON’T be held to ransom by the old agent.

    Get cleaning, hold the deposit, get new tenant in, take cleaning money from deposit with photos as evidence.

    They shouldn’t have left the place in a mess!

  3. Agree with Jason above – the previous tenants should have cleaned the place up out of plain courtesy.

    No point holding everything up because of an errant tenant!




About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer and specialises in creating products and services which help landlords and letting agents learn and understand landlord & tenant law. For example, she runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 14th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

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Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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