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Can a Landlord Tell You to Clean Your House?

landlording handing over house shaped key to tenant with moving boxes in the background

When you live in a rental home, you can never forget that ‘your’ house is actually ‘their’ house. This means having to maintain it as per the landlord’s requests which are, or should be, clearly stated in the lease agreement. In this document, you will also find detailed instructions regarding cleaning the property throughout the entirety of your tenancy, and at the end of it. 

With that said, there is a lot of confusion surrounding the level of cleanliness that is acceptable to the landlord which often leads to unnecessary disputes. This is not something you want to go through, especially if you are in a hurry to get your bond back. Additionally, there are various factors that come into play concerning how the property should be cleaned, and what is to be included in the checklist of cleaning tasks. For this reason, among others, it is important to understand when a landlord is allowed to tell you to clean your rental home, and how you should go about it to ensure that you meet their requirements. In doing so, the transition of returning the house back to the owners will be a smooth one. 

Before we get into the need for end of lease cleaning and regular upkeep during your tenancy, let’s talk a little bit more about tenancy laws in New South Wales that specifically concern the above. 

When are Tenants Obligated to Clean the House?

blonde woman wearing yellow gloves and an apron looking at a messy kitchen

As per a general lease agreement, landlords state that the property must be cleaned at the end of the tenancy, as well as maintained in a reasonably clean condition while occupied. In this case, the pre-agreed upon terms must be honoured as per tenancy laws. Now, here is where it gets a little hazy; house cleaning is a broad concept that includes many different tasks; therefore, unless specific terms are mentioned, tenants are left unsure of what a landlord can and cannot demand where cleaning the property is concerned. 

A good example of this is that, by law, landlords cannot ask for carpets to be cleaned by professionals unless the term specifies that tenants with pets must do so. Similarly, some lease agreements may add professional cleaning of carpets as a special term because it was done prior to the tenant moving in; in this case, the tenant must do the needful and bear the cost as well. However, it should be noted that tenants cannot be forced to hire a particular carpet cleaning service (as per the landlord’s request) if the agreement only mentions that the carpets be cleaned professionally, and nothing more.

Lastly, tenancy laws state that the property must be returned in the same condition as it was when given to the tenant. Therefore, it is important to read through the terms of the lease minutely to ensure that moving out at the end of the tenancy does not get stalled with issues related to cleaning the property.

Keeping the House Clean During Tenancy

moving boxes on a wooden floor in a large living room with other assorted items packed together

It’s only natural for a house owner to want a tenant to treat their property with respect. Apart from not causing damage to the property, it is also expected that some level of cleanliness be maintained. For this, routine cleaning by the tenant or a hired professional is necessary. 

Regular upkeep should include cleaning the floor, furniture, bathroom and kitchen surfaces, removing cobwebs, and vacuuming carpets. As and when needed, deep cleaning kitchen appliances must also be done to ensure that they are maintained, and continue to function optimally without the risk of damage due to irregular cleaning and maintenance.

To put it simply, the house must be free of dirt and grime buildup or in a sanitary condition during your tenancy. This usually entails minimal daily cleaning and a more thorough clean at least once a week. If you cannot manage this yourself, there are quite a few maid services that offer routine cleaning in NSW for an affordable rate. Depending on your cleaning requirements, you can hire a professional cleaner for weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly cleaning services.

Is End of Lease Cleaning Mandatory?

large room with wooden floor filled with moving boxes and a cat sitting on a queen size mattress in the background

Even if you have maintained the property reasonably well during your stay, at the end of the tenancy, a thorough clean is necessary and, as per regular lease agreements, compulsory. Again, the type of cleaning required may or may not be clearly stated in black and white, however, the premises must be returned in a decent condition, or as it was before you moved in. Unlike routine cleaning, there is a lot more that goes into move-out cleaning, especially when you are renting a house because there is a bond involved that the landlord can withhold if certain terms are not met.

Unless you have the time and dedication to carry out this rather large undertaking, it is advisable to hire an end of lease cleaning service to ensure that the property is cleaned thoroughly from top to bottom. Moreover, professional cleaners are equipped to tackle difficult cleaning tasks, and possess the skill and know-how to ensure that each one is carried out in a safe manner (so as to avoid property damage of any kind). 

In conclusion, when a landlord tells you (or rather, reminds you) that you need to clean the house, consider hiring a team of professionals to get the job done to both yours and their satisfaction. Alternatively, you can take on the task yourself by purchasing the right tools and products to help you yield the best results.

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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