Cleanliness Chaos – How will the new ‘Clean & Tidy’ Clause affect you
There’s nothing worse than seeing the massive task of cleaning a vacated house. The keys have been handed over by your last tenants and they have left it in a right state. Stains on the carpet, mould in the shower and marks on the walls are a landlords nightmare. Ideally, you want the house in a better condition than what you handed over. But, how often does that occur? More than 56% of tenants have a dispute or part deposit given back because of the property condition. With a high number of rentals for students and young people, it is expected that there might be some mess. After interviewing a leading law firm, the Daily Mail suggests a ‘clean & tidy’ clause could be added by landlords to ensure its left in a reasonable condition after the tenants vacate the property. Doing so will save heaps of money in furniture replacement or professional cleaning.
This would be a huge benefit to the landlord, who is an investor after all. Their business is running the property, and any added damage will come out of their pocket. With the introduction of the Tenant Fee Act and an increase in stamp duty, it can be a hefty financial investment. Therefore, they need as much help as they can get. Landlords are responsible for any utility repairs and administration costs, so cleaning the property after receiving the keys does not need to be added. When you find a new tenant, it’s not out of the ordinary to expect anything less than a clean house once the contract ends. While it affects the tenant because they have to put energy and time into cleaning up after themselves, this should be a prerequisite. Not doing so is bad faith and will mean a poor reference should they wish to move on. The only benefit to a tenant is if they’re in a rush. Maybe it’s a family emergency and they must leave on a whim. However, if they have to do this, communication goes a long way. If you can come to a mutual agreement, all parties can be satisified and you get a good reputation.
It’s the duty of the tenant to keep the property in a good condition ensuring high levels of hygiene are upheld. Failing to do so upon inspection could lead to an eviction 21 notice with only two months notice. But remember as a landlord you have to give 24 hours notice should you wish to enter the property, and have reasonable grounds. Entering the ‘clean & tidy’ clause could have a negative effect on your business. While it promotes good health and demonstrates your authority as a landlord, it could potentially scare away prospective tenants. They could feel like they do not have enough freedom. After all, they’re paying your mortgage and only living there temporarily. It is not an investment for them and simply a short-term need. On a day to day basis, tenants are out of the property at work so do they have the time, effort or finances to keep the property “clean & tidy”?At the end of it, you want to save on your investment, meaning this clause could be important to maintain the properties condition.
To inspire cleanliness in the flat, you need three things. Communication, a firm but fair attitude towards the tenants and regular inspections. Being a friendly landlord who understands the tenants needs can go a long way. If they are happy and like you, they will be less likely to leave a mess and vacate giving you an issue. In general, you can also be a good judge of character before they sign the contract. How they dress and appear could be a good indicator of the tenant you are entering into agreement with. Making sure you are firm but fair is key. Don’t be too lenient or they could take advantage. Regular inspections on a monthly basis or quarterly at a push could let them know you’re there and involved in your investment. With your presence felt, it should kick them into gear to look after the property.
Essentially, cleaning clause contracts are a good idea, especially for landlords. It will preserve your investment and help you save money in the long-run. Because tenants are protected so much these days, landlords need to stand their ground and fight their corner. In hindsight, it could put off some tenants, but are they really worth using if they don’t want to uphold such a simple clause? You’re not asking for such an unreasonable request, simply to keep it clean and tidy. As a landlord, you shouldn’t have to fork out extra for furniture removal or carpet cleaning a massive wine stain anyway. Just remember to be fair too. Don’t expect too much from the tenant. They’re doing you a favour by paying your mortgage payments, so don’t take them for granted. A void property is never good for your business, so it’s a balancing act that needs respect and co-operation.
Adding the clean and tidy clause could go either way. While it can ensure the property is kept in a good condition for a fair tenant, it could also deter plenty of other prospects from signing on the dotted line. The life of a landlord is challenging currently. Brexit is looming and nobody knows how the market will turn out. Some suggest prices can drop by up to 30%, so squeezing as much out of the property as possible is needed. Any void periods could be just as costly as a mess after tenants leave. Either way, you just have to judge what you want from the investment. Communicate with tenants and tell them what you expect. The good ones will be happy to oblige anyway, creating a win-win for all involved.