How Clean Should Your Property Be When Moving Out?
When it’s time to vacate your rental property, there will be some loose ends you’ll need to tie up before you can say goodbye. A major aspect of vacating a property is cleaning the property to a sufficient level, especially if you’re wanting to get your entire rental bond back and leave a good final impression with your property managers.
But how clean does a rental property need to be when you vacate? In this easy guide, we discuss everything you need to know about the end of lease cleaning, as well as some tips to protect yourself in the case there are any issues.
Purpose of cleaning
When vacating a property, you are expected to leave it in the same condition as it was when you arrived. This not only covers you from having to pay for any extra cleaning or repairs needed for the property, but also protects the owner and the new tenants moving in. Your property manager or landlord will often recommend a professional cleaning company to get your property back in pristine condition.
Hiring a bond cleaner can be expensive, with a two-bedroom apartment costing upwards of $200. Cleaning the property yourself may seem like an easy way to save money, but using the bond cleaner does have its advantages.
If you clean the property yourself, you aren’t guaranteed to meet the landlord’s standard of cleanliness. Using a bond cleaner ensures consistency after you leave. Plus, if there are any issues, they’ll usually go back and fix it all up free-of-charge. This way, if the landlord is still unhappy about the property’s condition, you are no longer accountable.
What is fair wear and tear?
There are certain aspects of a property that are expected to deteriorate over time. From faded paint to scuffed floors, it’s not uncommon to see some light wear and tear when living in a rental property. This kind of wear and tear is the owner’s responsibility to fix as it is a necessary element of property maintenance.
However, tenants may be liable for more substantial damages done to the property. For example, a dent in the carpet from where a piece of furniture has been is considered fair wear and tear. But if the carpet is ripped by the tenant, then they are liable for the damage done to the property.
|Fair Wear & Tear||Damage|
|Faded, chipped, or cracked paint||Significant paint chipping or stains|
|Scuffed floors||Gouged floors|
|Worn benchtops||Stains, burns, cuts, etc. to benchtops|
If you notice any wear and tear that needs fixing, be sure to let your landlord or property manager know at your next routine inspection. Some wear and tear might need more urgent attention, in which case, it is important to contact them as soon as possible.
Sometimes, wear and tear can lead to more significant damage with continued use. By letting your property manager know, you can reduce your liability. This way, things can be fixed before the damage gets any worse.
If the landlord deems the condition of the property to be unsatisfactory, they might withhold part of your bond to pay for any repairs. Many landlords will expect a property to be left in pristine condition, even if this wasn’t how it appeared to the tenants upon entry. Although, the official standard for a vacated property is for it to be left “reasonably clean,” this definition also takes into account how long the tenants lived there, and the state of the property on arrival.
Upon vacating a property, you should submit a bond refund application. Once lodged, the landlord has 14 days to dispute the application if they are unhappy with the condition of the property. From there, the burden of proof falls on the landlord, as they have to show the biggest areas of concern in relation to the entry report. If the landlord fails to dispute the claim in 14 days, the tenant will get a full refund of their bond. If the claim is disputed, tenants may be tempted to go along with the landlord’s demands and cop the loss of bond money. However, it is important to know your rights as a tenant to make sure you aren’t being ripped off.
If you think that your bond application is being unfairly disputed, you can take your claim to your state’s rental tribunal. This is where the entry report can become your most valuable piece of evidence. Rental tribunals exist to protect the rights of tenants. By comparing the property’s entry report with the condition upon exiting, the dispute can be settled accordingly. Again, the property’s cleanliness needs to meet the definition of reasonably clean, not pristine condition.
Tips to protect yourself
As a tenant, you may often feel powerless against the landlord’s decisions. Sometimes, it might seem easier to accept the loss of bond instead of challenging disputes. That being said, there are a few things you can do to make sure the property is in the best condition possible. And if it comes to it, give yourself the best chance at getting your bond back.
It’s a good idea to keep in regular contact with your property manager or landlord. Your property manager will conduct routine inspections to make sure the property is being maintained. This is your chance to let them know about any issues you have, including any wear and tear that needs attention. Following these inspections, they will notify you of anything they are concerned about. Make sure you keep copies of all correspondence with property management, as it can be used as evidence should disputes arise.
While you don’t have to use the bond cleaners recommended by property management, it can be a good idea to absolve yourself of liability. Bond cleaners are guaranteed to get the property in pristine condition. This exceeds the tenant’s responsibility to leave the property reasonably clean. So, if the landlord has any further issues with the property’s condition, you know it’s not your fault.
Know your rights
Again, you are well within your rights to clean the property yourself instead of hiring a bond cleaner. Although, if it doesn’t meet the landlord’s standard of reasonably clean, they can take any extra expenses out of your bond. The property manager might also seem to be a neutral third party, but they exist to protect the landlord’s property - not your bond. This is where the rental tribunal comes in to help protect your rights as a tenant. Don’t be afraid to take disputes to the tribunal to ensure you get your bond back.
If disputes do get taken to the rental tribunal, the biggest piece of evidence you have is the entry report. This shows the property in the condition that it was before you moved in. The entry report should be considered a benchmark for how you leave the property. This can be helpful when cleaning the property, so that you have a frame of reference as to how each aspect is supposed to look. Any damage that occurred during the tenancy won’t be present on the entry report, so you may be liable for that in case of a dispute.