End of tenancy cleaning checklist for landlords and tenants  - Total Landlord Insurance

May 30, 2024
End of tenancy cleaning checklist for landlords and tenants  - Total Landlord Insurance

End of tenancy cleaning is the last opportunity for tenants, landlords, or agents to make sure that the tenancy ends smoothly and minimise any potential for deposit deductions at the end of the tenancy, which is in everyone’s best interests. In this article, we’ll look at the end of tenancy cleaning rules, explain landlords’ and tenants’ cleaning responsibilities and provide an end of tenancy cleaning checklist to help landlords and tenants avoid end of tenancy negotiations related to cleaning.

Cleaning, the biggest end of tenancy issue

Cleaning is by far the most common reason for end of tenancy negotiations across all types of tenancies between landlords and tenants, and is significantly more common for student tenancies. Total Landlord’s deposit protection partner, mydeposits, reports cleaning as the cause of 27% of all Custodial resolution cases.

As a tenant, you can avoid getting into a formal resolution and reduce your risk of not getting your full deposit back by making sure you have cleaned your rental to the same standard as you found it, when you leave.

As a landlord, you must also pay attention to cleaning, making sure the property is clean to a good standard when handed to the tenants at the start of the tenancy. The new tenants will be disappointed from day one if their home is not clean and are less likely to return the property cleaned to a good standard or even not look after the property during the tenancy.

People have different standards when it comes to end of tenancy cleaning

Cleaning is very subjective - people have differing ideas as to what a good standard of cleaning looks like. So, it’s important that tenants understand their end of tenancy cleaning responsibility, which is to leave the property cleaned to the same standard as when they moved in.

The check-in inventory should record the standard of cleaning accurately when the tenancy begins, and this is the standard tenants should refer to when cleaning the property in preparation for check-out.

The importance of the check-in inventory and schedule of condition

A landlord check-in inventory and schedule of condition should include a detailed room by room list of all the contents and items and a full description of their cleanliness and condition, with embedded photographs (date stamped too if possible).

The inventory can be done by an agent, the landlord or an independent inventory clerk - sometimes this is the best option as the inventory needs to be unbiased, professional, and comprehensive. Once both parties have agreed and signed the inventory, both should have a good understanding of the state of the property, and their expectations for how it should be returned at the end of the tenancy.

Briefly, a good inventory, 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 embedded photos, dated and signed by both parties (electronic proof of being sent to the tenant is also acceptable)

At the end of the tenancy, you should also include:

  • mid-term property reports, if any
  • a finalised inventory seen by all parties

Attention to detail at the inventory agreement stage should minimise the potential for disputes at the end of the tenancy. It should allow for constructive negotiation where needed and make the tenancy process agreeable for all involved.

A robust inventory is key to the success of any tenancy and safeguards the interests of both tenants and landlords. While the majority of landlords are good and most tenants treat their rental properties well, even successful tenancies often end in a discussion over the condition and cleanliness of the property. If this happens, check-in inventories, mid-term inspection reports and check-out reports will be the primary pieces of evidence for negotiating.

Our ‘Ultimate guide to landlord inventory and schedule of condition’ explains what the inventory should include in detail.

Check-ins and check-outs in person

It is best practice for landlords and agents to try to complete both the check-ins and check-outs with tenants present. That way you can go through the inventory and all the property operating instructions together, before signing all the paperwork.

Completing check-ins and check-outs in person if possible, also means that there is a two-way face-to-face dialogue between landlord or agent and tenant, giving an opportunity to spell out cleaning and other expectations on both sides and iron out any immediate niggles. Taking a personal approach will help tenants feel more responsible for the property from the start, and it will help to reduce the potential for damage and neglect. Importantly, the documentation can be signed right there and then, minimising delays and misunderstandings.

Tenant cleaning responsibilities during the tenancy

While it’s in the tenants’ best interests to look after the property during the tenancy by cleaning little and often, and particularly keeping areas like the oven clean, there is no law that requires tenants to keep the property clean during the tenancy. The exception to this of course would be if a lack of cleaning has caused a serious health and safety risk or damage to the property’s fabric and structure.

However, regular property inspections are an opportunity for landlords to remind tenants of their responsibility to leave the property cleaned to the same standard of cleaning that they found it at the start of the tenancy and offer them some tips to help the tenancy run smoothly.

Cleaning tips for tenants during the tenancy

It’s a good idea at the start of the tenancy and during the tenancy, to highlight some of the most common spots that tenants miss – particularly if there are signs that tenants are not keeping on top of cleaning. For example, you can suggest that they:

  • wipe down condensation to avoid mould developing (see our guide to damp, mould and condensation which includes a damp and mould tenant checklist to share with tenants)
  • clean the kitchen regularly, in particular the oven, to avoid a build-up of grease, and the sink due to limescale, both of which can be more difficult to remove if left
  • attend to any stains promptly, for example to the carpet – they can be much easier to remove sooner, rather than leaving untreated
  • understand that they are responsible for cleaning the windows, both inside and out (unless this is hazardous, or the tenancy agreement states otherwise)

Some landlords offer a pre-inspection before the tenant moves out, which gives the tenants an opportunity to make good any areas of concern before they move out.

“Offering tenants good advice at the right time, and not overloading them at the start, can help maintain relationships and encourage a smooth tenancy from start to end.”

Suzy Hershman, Resolution Department Lead, mydeposits

End of tenancy cleaning and wear and tear

Fair wear and tear can be a grey area when it comes to cleaning, so it’s worth a mention here. The principle is that fair wear and tear does not apply to cleaning and that the property must be returned to that same standard of cleaning as at the start. The cross over comes when e.g., a carpet has multiple stains and cleaning will not return the carpet to a reasonable standard. A claim towards a new carpet will need to consider the lifespan of a carpet in a let property, its age and condition of the start of the tenancy. Everything will come to the end of its lifespan at some point, no matter how clean and well looked after the property. Total Landlord’s deposit protection partner, mydeposits, has written a guide on the average life expectancy of rental products, to help you distinguish between what might be considered fair wear and tear and what is likely to be seen as exceeding this. Our ultimate landlord guide to fair wear and tear explains how to calculate wear and tear, the difference between wear and tear and damage, and how to apportion costs so that your tenant isn’t asked to pay more than is fair for any damage they do cause.

Tenant cleaning responsibilities at the end of the tenancy

End of tenancy cleaning is usually the tenant’s responsibility, but what needs cleaning and the standard that is expected isn’t always clear to everyone involved.

Tenants should think about the end of tenancy cleaning process at least two weeks before the move out date. Landlords, remind your tenants what they agreed to in the check-in inventory, and tenants, refer to the check-in inventory descriptions and photographic evidence.

To reduce the risks of end of tenancy negotiations and disputes about cleaning, taking simple steps such as creating an end of tenancy cleaning checklist can help. We’ve put together a handy end of tenancy cleaning checklist which landlords and agents can download and share with tenants, to help make sure they don’t overlook any items or areas of the property. You will also find the checklist at the end of this guide.

How much is end of tenancy cleaning?

Tenants can choose to clean the property themselves, if they can clean it to the correct standard, or they can pay for end of tenancy cleaning. The cost of this will vary depending on the state and size of the property, and where it is located. The landlord cannot request that tenants pay for a professional end of tenancy clean. The Tenant Fees Act 2019, which came into force in June 2019, prohibits landlords and agents from charging any fees to tenants other than the permitted fees outlined in the Act, and the legislation prohibits the landlord requiring a tenant to pay for professional cleaning when they vacate the property. Tenants can choose to pay for a professional end of tenancy clean if they wish, but forcing a tenant to hire a professional cleaner can incur a fine of £5,000. Our separate article explains more about landlord fines and how to avoid them.

Can landlords use the tenant’s deposit to pay for end of tenancy cleaning?

If, at the end of the tenancy, the tenant has not cleaned the property to the standard it was in at the start of the tenancy and has left the property in an unsatisfactory condition the landlord can choose to raise a formal resolution, to recoup the amount needed to bring the property up to the standard of cleanliness required.

Again, the accuracy and detail in the inventory and check-in report will be key in deciding the outcome of negotiations. The landlord can’t claim a deposit deduction that would make the property cleaner than it was before the tenant moved in.

Landlords know that the property needs to be left cleaned to the standard it was when the tenant moved in, which is not necessarily cleaned to a professional standard. So, landlords can only apply compensation to bring it up to the same standard as at the start of the tenancy to avoid betterment.”

Suzy Hershman, Resolution Department Lead at mydeposits

Visit the mydeposits Content Hub to read case studies relating to end of tenancy cleaning to understand their approach to adjudication. For example, this case study on unreliable check-in evidence reviews a case involving damage and cleaning and the reliability of check-in and check-out reports. Without a valid check-in report, no accurate comparison of the condition of the property between the start and end of the tenancy could be made, and this would be required to find the tenant responsible for all the claims made against them. This meant that only a small amount of compensation was awarded to the landlord.

“Make sure you give your tenants good advice from the start of the tenancy and check that they have read the check-in report. Tenants will often clean a property very thoroughly before moving out, and there are professional cleaning companies that offer ‘end of tenancy cleaning’ that are poor, so it’s very important that the standard of cleaning is clearly recorded. If there is a good relationship with the tenants during the tenancy, and good comparative evidence from the beginning and end, any negotiation on proposed cleaning costs is more likely to end in a compromise, allowing everyone to move on.”

Suzy Hershman, Resolution Department Lead at mydeposits

Does landlord insurance cover end of tenancy cleaning?

Landlord insurance policies won’t cover the cost of cleaning, either during or at the end of a tenancy. However, Total Landlord’s Premier policy offers protection against both malicious and accidental damage by tenants or their guests, as well as cover for loss of rent resulting from the need to carry out repairs. Head of Broking at Total Landlord, Steve Barnes, offers some advice to help make sure you don’t invalidate your landlord insurance policy should you need to make a claim.

“You will need to provide evidence that you did all you could to prevent the damage before we can pay out for a claim. For example, you will need to show that your tenant passed a full and robust reference check and that you carried out regular inspections on your property.  Develop a good relationship with your tenants once they are in your property, and make sure that they know they should contact you straight away if any repairs are needed. Attend to repairs promptly, and carry out regular maintenance, for both your tenants’ safety and your own peace of mind.”

Steve Barnes, Head of Broking, Total Landlord

The importance of landlord insurance

It is always best for landlords and agents to be prepared for the unexpected. Even with the best inventory and all the 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 for landlords to take out residential landlord insurance, which protects the property owner against financial losses suffered in connection with a rental property.

End of tenancy cleaning checklist for landlords and tenants

End of tenancy cleaning requirements will vary from one property to another, so check your tenancy agreement. This checklist includes the main areas and items common to all properties. The standard required will be ‘exactly’ the same as when you moved in, so make sure you refer to your check-in inventory.

Walls, doors and ceilings

When cleaning walls, doors and ceilings, start high and work your way down.


Don’t forget to look up! Use a duster with a long handle to remove any cobwebs from corners, and clean overhead lighting fixtures and fittings, smoke alarms etc.

Walls and skirting boards

Wipe down with an effective cleaning product. Test any walls to make sure the cleaning product will not remove the paint.


Wipe down as necessary, not forgetting the top of the door, door frames, handles, and the front door (both inside and outside).


Dust and damp wipe down all surfaces throughout the property

Fixtures, fittings and furnishings

Curtains and blinds

  • Curtains and blinds would not normally need to be washed or dry cleaned unless the tenancy has been particularly long, but check for any new marks or stains
  • Clean the tops of curtain rails and blinds
  • To clean slatted blinds, use the string to close them one way and dust them, then close them the other way and repeat


  • Dust and fully clean shelving
  • Empty cupboards and clean inside and out, clean the tops of wardrobes and shelving
  • Empty drawers and clean inside
  • Dust and polish surfaces of all furniture
  • Remove sofa cushions, beat them to remove dust, and vacuum the sofa

Lighting and power sockets

  • Dust light switches, accessible fittings and lampshades
  • Wipe and polish power sockets and extension cords, taking care not to use water or wet cloths


  • Wipe down window frames and seals with cleaner and clean all glass (inside and out)
  • Clean and dust window sills and frames


All floors should be thoroughly vacuumed or swept, and mopped if appropriate, and furniture moved to enable cleaning under and behind.


Vacuum throughout the property. If carpets need to be cleaned, you can hire carpet cleaning equipment cheaply, or alternatively get the carpet professionally cleaned.

Hard floors

Sweep / vacuum hard surfaces and mop.


Empty and disinfect bins and remove all rubbish and food waste from the property.


Fridge and freezer: Remove all food from the fridge and freezer. Defrost the freezer, being careful not to flood floors. Thoroughly clean the fridge and freezer internally with a kitchen cleaning product.

Kitchen cupboards: Empty cupboards and clean inside and out, rinsing the cloth well and wiping down the exterior and interior of doors and pulls.

Oven and hob: The oven and hob are often neglected. Ovens and hobs should be thoroughly degreased and - if in a really bad state – use a specialist oven cleaning company.

Kitchen sink: Clean the sink and pour baking soda down the drain to control odours.

Appliances: Appliances need to be scrubbed inside and outside, on top and behind. This includes:

  • washing machine and dishwasher (run a hot water cycle with a cup of baking soda)
  • tumble dryer
  • kettle (descale)
  • microwave
  • toaster

Wipe down all worktops and counter tops, being sure to clean behind and underneath appliances.

Clean extractor fans, removing all dirt, dust and grease.

Sweep and mop the floor, working from the far corner to the entrance.

Empty, clean and disinfect bins.


  • Clean the sink, vanity unit, shower and bath with a good bathroom cleaner, removing limescale.
  • Clean the shower tray and shower doors and remove limescale from the shower head
  • Scrub the toilet – inside and out - with disinfectant
  • Clean and polish the taps
  • Polish mirrors and glass
  • Clean all the tiles, removing any mould from the grout with an old toothbrush
  • Clean radiators and shower rails
  • Clean the extractor fan, removing all dirt and dust
  • Sweep/vacuum and mop the floor with hot water and detergent

Download our useful end of tenancy cleaning checklist and share with your tenants, to reduce the risks of end of tenancy negotiations and deposit deductions about cleaning.

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