How clean does a rental property need to be?

cleaning a mirror using scraper

How clean does a rental property need to be? Leaving a place dirty when you hand in your keys is one of the best ways to lose your deposit or end up in a dispute with your landlord. For tenants, cleaning is the most important thing you can do before you go.

Fast Facts:

  • Cleaning your place according to the inventory report included with your tenancy agreement is your best chance at getting your full deposit back.
  • Your landlord can demand the same level of cleanliness documented before you moved in.
  • Use your move-in inventory report as a guide for how to clean your place before you leave.
  • Make sure you clean your place as close to your move-out date as possible so it’s on the inventory report. Inventory reports are your strongest defence in a dispute with your landlord.
  • Under the law, you are not required to hire a professional cleaning company (but it might be a good idea).

Introduction to End of Tenancy Cleaning

We’ve all moved into new properties before, and chances are, they’re pretty clean. We’ve also received an inventory report when we signed our tenancy agreements, and that report documented the condition of the place as close to when we moved in as possible.

When you move out, the expectation is that the space will look the same as when you moved in. But, if you’ve lived there awhile, the reality could require a lot of elbow grease to achieve.

If you want to get your deposit back, and as little hassle with your landlord as possible, you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and get cleaning… or pick up the phone and get a professional cleaning company (preferably one that specialises in end of tenancy cleaning) to get the place in tip-top shape.

None of us wants to worry about too much cleaning, but unless you’re cool with losing your deposit, you should plan on doing it and doing it well.

Who’s responsible for what kinds of cleaning?

As the tenant, daily and weekly cleaning is your responsibility.

How you imagined it would go

‍You need to keep the place reasonably hygienic, including taking out your rubbish regularly, keeping your dishes clean, getting rid of spoiled food and anything else that can attract pests, as well as disinfecting high-germ areas.

Wiping worktops, vacuuming carpets, and mopping the hard floors reasonably regularly, along with sweeping and dusting, are things that fall under your responsibility while you live there.

Your landlord is responsible for cleaning common areas such as hallways and lobbies. They’re also usually responsible for keeping up the building’s exterior, including cleaning out the gutters and washing the outsides of the windows.

How clean does a rental property need to be?

The answer is: At least as clean as it was when you moved in, according to the inventory report, which means it differs from property to property. How do you know what you’re supposed to do?

Pull out your inventory report and ask for a final inspection checklist

Your inventory report should contain the following:

  • The date the report was created
  • List of all fixtures, appliances, equipment, and other fittings on the property, along with their condition
  • Meter readings
  • List of keys and number of each key the tenant has
  • Photos and videos of any damage to the property
  • Names and addresses of everyone named in the agreement

It should also include the specific condition each of the following items was in at the time the landlord made the report:

  • Ceilings, floors, and walls
  • All paintwork
  • All carpet, hard flooring, and window trimmings
  • Appliances
  • Furniture
  • Fittings like sockets, cabinets, etc.
  • Doors (interior and exterior)
  • Windows
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Utility (water, electricity, gas) supplies

Perform a detailed check of each of these items against your report to determine how much cleaning you need to do.

See how much you can pack away before cleaning

It’s challenging to clean a place when it’s still full of stuff.

Remember, you need to do far more than simple daily or weekly cleaning. You need to wash your windows, ceilings, walls, and doors, clean the insides of your cabinets; dust, wipe, or wash things like window trimmings; clean or replace shower curtains; and so much more.

Cleaning out your kitchen and bathroom cupboards is far easier if you’ve already packed up all that stuff.

It’s the same with food in your fridge and freezer. As you get closer to moving out, let your supply of cold foods run low, so you have less to pack away in coolers and more time to clean out your appliances.

To do’s for end of the tenancy

This is far more than moving everything out and then wiping stuff down. To fully clean your flat before you leave, start with the kitchen and the bathroom, and go from there. Stick to your landlord’s inspection checklist closely as you do the following:


  • Scrub out all appliances, fixtures, and worktops, including descaling and polishing away everything, including fingerprints where necessary
  • Disinfect your fridge and freezer
  • Defrost your freezer if necessary
  • Vacuum or dust out all cupboards and clean all exterior surfaces and hardware such as handles and knobs
  • Clean under and behind your appliances if possible    
  • Scrub the floors and deep clean the carpets


  • Clean and disinfect the shower and all its fixtures, including the soap tray and any other shelves, racks, and trays    
  • Clean out the drain
  • Remove as much mould from the grout as possible  
  • Descale all tiles that need it  
  • Scrub and disinfect the toilet
  • Scrub your sink and polish the taps
  • Vacuum and dust (and wash out if necessary) your under-sink cupboards  
  • Clean and polish all fixtures like lights, towel racks, radiator,
  • and mirrors
  • Scrub and disinfect the floor

The rest of the place

  • Dust away all cobwebs from corners high and low
  • Clean and dust all wooden and metal furniture and fixtures
  • Wash and wipe the walls and doors and scrub away all marks
  • Wipe down all skirt boards, door casings, and windowsills and casings    
  • Clean the light fixtures, switches, and sockets  
  • Polish all fixtures, including mirrors    
  • Clean and disinfect all doorknobs
  • Wash all windows, including screens    
  • Clean out the fireplace (take care to keep soot and ash from falling on the carpet)
  • Vacuum and deep clean carpets     Scrub and mop the hard floors

I know, I know.

You wanted to hear, “open up the window for 10 minutes and let a stiff breeze run through the house”.

But, unfortunately, there is a lot of work required to ensure you get your deposit back.

This is why many turn to tenancy cleaning services that can guarantee a professional clean, leaving you to focus on your move to a new property.

Deposit Disputes

Landlords and tenants – has there ever been two groups that conflict as often?

More than half of all tenant deposits get tied up in disputes because of cleaning. Damage and unauthorised redecoration make up much of the rest of deposit disputes. On the plus side, remember that fair wear and tear is in your favour.

Your landlord can hold onto whatever portion of your deposit they need to cover the costs of cleaning your flat to the inventory report outlines’ standards. They must release the rest of the money to you.

The problem is that they have no incentive to shop around for a good value cleaner unless your full deposit is insufficient to cover cleaning costs, so they have you at a disadvantage here. Therefore, it’s to your benefit to make sure your place is as clean as possible before you leave. Or that you choose to use a cleaning service so that you know you’re not paying over the odds.

Landlords and hiring a professional

While you’re looking at that long list of things to do and feeling like you’re going to faint, remember that your landlord is well within their rights to refuse to refund part or all of your deposit if you don’t return the property to them in the same condition in which you got it.

Also, keep in mind that deposit disputes are a colossal pain in the neck and that your inventory report is your best friend in defending the results of your cleaning efforts.

While your landlord cannot force you to hire a cleaning company, if you’re on good terms, working with them to find a reliable company before you move out can help raise the level of goodwill they’re willing to extend to you.

It’s important to note that they can’t have a “professional cleaning clause” in your tenancy agreement. As long as you return the place clean, you can choose the service you want. Check out the Office of Fair Trading’s brochure for more information on this issue, and call your tenancy deposit scheme.

What to look for in a professional service

You want a cleaning service that knows how to clean more things than you can think of on your own. They should also be ready and willing to work with your landlord and give you a guarantee that you’ll pass the final inspection so that you can either get them to do it again correctly or refund your money if you fail.

Look for an insured company that has all the proper equipment, including steam cleaners, cleaning supplies appropriate for deep cleaning each part of the property (including your oven and shower), and performs work based on the size of the property rather than how long it takes.

Remember, ensuring your place is squeaky clean when you move out is one of the best ways to get your full deposit back after you move out. If you can’t or don’t want to do it yourself, then hire professionals to clean the property and give yourself peace of mind.

At Tidy Green Clean, we provide professional end of tenancy cleaning services in Aberdeen.

We go above and beyond with diligent and experienced cleaners that know exactly how to return a rented property to its very best state. Our team treat each property as if it was their own, so get in touch for a Tidy Green Clean end of tenancy cleaning quote today.

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