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A Tenancy Cleaning Debacle

What happens if your carefully laid end of tenancy cleaning plans go awry in the last moment? Faced with a disastrous situation, you have to keep your fingers crossed that you will be able to make a last-minute call that works in your favour. Here is a real-life story, shared by one of our regular customers.

What on earth is an end of tenancy cleaning? 

Most of you remember that faithful moment when you first change residences – the chaos of moving, the excitement of having a new place, the endless list of tasks on your mind. For me, that day came a few years ago, when I was about to leave my bachelor’s pad in Chelsea and move in a much larger apartment in Victoria with my then-fiancee and future wife. 

Before I start telling you my story, I want to point out a few things. First, I am an excellent planner and rarely leave anything to chance. I never leave a job for the last possible moment and like to finish any duties well before their appointed deadline. Second, I have never paid much attention to the mundane documents everyone has to sign – and my tenancy contract made no difference. Third, do not forget that I was in my mid-twenties, and it was the first time I had to deal with a move-out situation (leaving my parents’ home for college obviously doesn’t count). 

I gave my landlord a one-month notice, but he knew even earlier that I planned to change apartments because I had told him about my engagement. He was a real gentleman of sixty, a widower whose kids had moved to the Devonshire countryside, but he loved the hassle and noise of the big city. I think he treated me like something of a surrogate son – in other words, I expected no problems with my transition.

A couple of weeks before the move-out deadline, I got a late-afternoon call from him. It came as a surprise since I had already paid the final rent and promised to drop by for a glass of wine on the last day. “Just calling to check if you have already booked a decent tenancy cleaner, Georgey boy! Make sure they do not overprice you!” I told him not to worry, though I had no idea what he was talking about. What kind of cleaner? And why would I have to book it? The apartment was in a perfectly decent state as it was.

In such situations, my first phone call was to my guardian angel – in other words, my older sister Diane. I could see her rolling her eyes while I was describing the conundrum. “George, please tell me that you have read your tenancy contract!”, she said. Of course, I hadn’t. But there it was, the end of tenancy cleaning article – which was pretty standard as it turned out. 

No reason to panic 

The clause in question, after I read it a second time, sounded perfectly logical. A house owner would like nothing better than a professional contractor cleaning their property and making it shine for future tenants. I had been incredibly lucky because uncle Steve (my landlord) had called me two weeks early. Still, more than enough time to find the proper company for the job. I rolled up my sleeves and put all my planning skills to use. After a few hours of research, I had picked a London tenancy cleaning contractor with decent reviews and seemingly reasonable prices. I immediately gave them a call, and after an amicable discussion, we set the appointment for the cleaning for the last Saturday of the month, three days before moving out. When I put the phone down, I sighed with relief – there had been no reason for panic at all. Or so I thought.

A tenancy cleaning debacle galore

With the cleaning worry out of the way, I could concentrate on the other move-out tasks, primarily moving my belongings and furniture. I stumbled upon a very useful tip that suggested you should do the moving before the cleaning, as it would make the procedure much easier for the cleaners. So with pretty much everything else settled, I could confidently wait for the post-vacancy treatment appointment. 

The last Saturday of the month came, and I was ready to rumble. I had no other plans for the day, except to go for lunch with my fiancee and then return for the final quality check-up. Ten minutes before the hour of appointment, my doorbell rang. “They are early, I like that!”, I remember thinking – and it was the last positive thought for the day. 

I had read on the Internet that crews, not a single cleaner, usually performed tenancy cleaning. So I was amazed when I saw a smiling young woman in her mid-twenties with a backpack on her shoulders, extending her hand to greet me. “Hello, I am your home cleaner! Can I come in?” While I was letting her in the apartment, the alarm in my head was already ringing loudly. When she mentioned running through a contract first, and then discussing the regular chores I want to underline, I knew some mishap had happened. 

I think that at first, she thought I was having a bad joke at her expense. Then she noticed the lack of personal belongings and most of the furniture, and she turned red from embarrassment. “Give me five minutes to sort this out”, she blurted out anxiously and made a quick call to the company’s office. 

As it turned out, some misunderstanding had happened while I had made my initial booking. The job description did say “tenancy cleaning”, but the desk girl had filed the appointment under “home . cleaning”. My astonishment was quickly turning into anger, followed by dismay. I understood that the poor girl in my apartment had nothing to do with the issue, but I still left her in no doubt about my opinion for her employer. In my defence, I did cover her travelling expenses and promised not to write a negative review about the company (I am still not going to mention their name, though they deserve it.)

A last-minute rescue

No matter how much I fumed, there was no use of anger right now. I called my fiancee and told her the whole story, cancelling the lunch. Then I frantically began looking for another contractor that could do the job on much shorter notice. 

I realised that the odds were against me. First of all, it was Saturday – and most contractors had their office hours from Monday to Friday. Second, very few companies took move-out cleaning jobs on a two or even 3-day notice. Knowing that I did not have much of a choice, I called the first provider working during the weekend. 

To my utter surprise, the girl on the phone casually replied that they could sign me up for the next day. I was losing my patience and rather tersely stressed that I do not need regular but an end of tenancy cleaning. She did not lose her cool (God bless her for that!) and repeated the offer. I could not believe my luck! Within five minutes, we had sorted out all the necessary details, and I was back on track!

There were no unpleasant surprises this time around. The cleaning crew arrived right on time and did an outstanding job. Despite all my efforts, they declined to accept an exuberant tip for their performance. Little did they know that they had saved me from a tenancy cleaning debacle!