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Don’t Let It Happen To You: Ridiculously Easy Ways To Not Get Your Deposit Back (Hint – End of Tenancy Cleaning is to Blame)

If you’re moving out of a rental property, you probably want to leave the place nice and clean so that the landlord will give you your deposit money back. This is, after all, the main reason why a lot of people like to call in the end of tenancy cleaners: this way, they can hand the receipt over to the landlord and the landlord will know that the place has been cleaned to the usual standards accepted by most letting agencies and similar bodies (if the landlord still gets snippy in spite of a receipt, you’re justified in kicking up a fuss, unless you’ve done something like put a hole in the wall – but that’s another story).

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However, if you have decided to go it alone and do your own moving out cleaning, it’s very easy to overlook something unless you (a) know what you’re doing and (b) use a end of tenancy cleaning checklist to make sure that nothing gets overlooked. During the hassle of packing up all your worldly goods and leaving your old place spic and span ready for the final inspection, it’s easy to overlook something in the fluster.

You don’t want to risk the hassle and irritation of an unreasonable landlord happening to you. Unfortunately, there are some very common things that a lot of tenants don’t think about or forget about and then end up not getting all of their deposit money back because of them. I’m not talking about things like setting fire to the carpets, punching holes in the walls or slashing up the furniture in a furnished flat, but more ordinary things that your typical person might overlook or forget by accident.

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Commonly Forgotten End Of Tenancy Cleaning Tasks


One of the things that landlords never like to see is rubbish that’s been left to sit festering in the bins, whether those bins are kept indoors or out. This is often a tricky one, as when you move out of a place, you’re likely to come across a whole heap of stuff that needs to be thrown out and/or recycled. The trouble is that your local kerbside rubbish collection day might not be the day you move out, so what do you do with the rubbish? If you leave the bins or bags on the kerb a day or three too early, there is the risk of stray dogs, stray cats and urban foxes getting into the stuff and making an even worse mess, so what do you do? The best move, if you don’t take responsibility for taking your rubbish away, either to your new place or to the local waste disposal facility, is to ask someone else to put the rubbish out for you – a neighbour, for example. If your bins are fox- and dog-proof, you could try putting them out for collection early.

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Messy Carpets

Quite a lot of landlords request that you get the carpets deep cleaned as part of your moving out cleaning, especially if you have pets. Deep cleaning carpets goes way beyond just giving it a good vacuum. Vacuuming just doesn’t cut the mustard when it comes to getting all the dirt and smell out of You’re going to need to hire one of those steam cleaning machines or call in a carpet cleaning specialist (some end of tenancy cleaning companies are linked with carpet cleaners or even offer these services on the side as a separate thing, so talk to your local moving out cleaning company about this).

Holes in the Paint (or Wallpaper)

I get it – you’re fond of artwork. You knew well enough not to put posters or pictures up with Blu-tack or sticky tape. Instead, you used drawing pins or thumbtacks or whatever you want to call them. Now that you’ve taken the pictures down, there are a few little holes left behind. While a few landlords may accept drawing pin holes as a normal part of life and regular wear and tear caused by being a normal person, others get a bit fussier about this – and they are within their rights here. The answer is to fill the holes in. The simplest form of filler for doing this is good old toothpaste, which slips easily into holes and fills them. If the holes are in a wall that isn’t white, you can tint the toothpaste to the right shade – but do this BEFORE you apply the toothpaste as filler. There are other things that you can use to fill in holes in the wall – try asking at your local hardware or DIY store.

Dirt and Grime Behind Appliances

Quite a lot of rental properties come with appliances such as refrigerators, dryers, washing machines and dishwashers. The floors and walls behind and under these collect dirt and they’re not places you usually clean, unless you’re doing a deep cleaning session. Unfortunately, once you’ve moved out, the landlord may decide that it’s time to upgrade those white goods, and when he or she hauls the old one out from the wall… you’re busted. I’m afraid that there’s nothing for it but to do the hauling out yourself so that you can tackle the grime, dust and other mess behind these large appliances (and you’ll be amazed at what has managed to sneak down under there!). While you’re at it, don’t forget to remove the dust and other from the backs of the appliances themselves. Some white goods can collect quite a lot of dust.

Inside the Appliances

I’ll assume that you didn’t make the mistake of leaving clothes behind in the washing machine (or dryer), food in the freezer or plates in the dishwasher. However, you may have left some dirt behind. Very few people forget to clear out the fridge and freezer and give it a good clean, but washing machines, dishwashers and dryers can often be overlooked. The simplest way to clean the dishwasher and the washing machine is to run it on a hot load on empty with baking soda instead of your usual detergent, followed by a cup of white vinegar during the rinse cycle. For a dryer, you’ll have to wipe out the inside yourself by hand with a damp cloth, especially if you’ve used dryer sheets or similar products that use chemicals to reduce static. Don’t overlook filters and lint traps!

Fans and Blinds

You may take them for granted but fans and blinds are perfect settling spots for dust. Unfortunately, they’re fiddly to clean. In the case of the blinds, you may be able to wash them if you can’t dust or vacuum them. In the case of the fan, you will need to get up on a chair and use a damp duster on the top of the fan blades.

Dog Turds on the Llawn

I don’t really need to explain why this isn’t nice, do I? Get out there with a plastic bag or pooper scooper like you would when walking Rover in the park and leave the lawn nice and clear from dog turd for the next tenant. Make sure you dispose of old chewed bones and pet toys while you’re at it.

The Nice Landlord (Most Likely Not)

If you’ve got a nice and reasonable landlord, he or she may give you the chance to take care of something you’ve overlooked if it gets spotted during the final inspection when you hand your keys over. Unfortunately, not all landlords do this and if you have the bad luck to strike a snippy, snotty, snooty one, any oversight in your end of tenancy cleaning ends up being grounds for not handing all of your deposit money back (although you’ve probably got cause for complaint if you don’t get handed back all of it just because you forgot to wipe out a bathroom drawer).

Is it worth the risk?

Hire a professional end of tenancy cleaning contractor to carry out the work for you. Most of them offer guarantees. if they mess up and the landlord is not happy – they will re-do the job free of charge until he is. Anyway, you are not out of pocket as the responsibility lies with the company.