All you can think about at the conclusion of a tenancy is getting your bond returned and moving on (or in) to your new house.

It is not as easy as just leaving the premises and giving over the keys to the landlord while they deliver you your bond. In reality, many renters never see their bond again as a result of arguments and disputes between the two parties.

Landlords, or the real estate agents who represent them, are legally permitted to withhold a bond if they are dissatisfied with the condition of the property.

They often say that this involves a lack of cleanliness and/or property damage. This implies that the tenant may be requested to pay for a professional cleaning or small repairs that allegedly happened during the tenancy.

Of course in many situations, if the tenant believes they are not in the wrong, they may further negotiate with the agent / landlord or even file a claim with NSW Fair Trading.

Estimated Costs of Professional End-of-Lease Cleaning

All lease agreements require that the property be returned to the owners in the same condition in which it was supplied to the renters.

However, the majority of them do not include a condition requiring professional cleaning at the conclusion of the lease. 

This may or may not involve thorough cleaning kitchen cupboards, appliances, washing windows, and so on, depending on the firm. Most of the time, they are given as paid add-on services. 

Even if the lease agreement or the landlord do not need professional cleaning, the tenant is nonetheless responsible for keeping the premises clean. If the landlord is unhappy with the results of a DIY cleaning, the tenant may be required to hire and pay for a professional cleaning service which can cost anywhere from $300 to $1000 in Sydney.

Damage vs. Normal Wear and Tear

If an owner cannot discover a flaw in the degree of cleanliness during an inspection, there is a strong likelihood that they will seek little problems in great detail. This might include even the slightest of markings on a wall that were there before the renter moved in. Regardless, if detected, the landlord has the right to charge the renter for correcting such damages, as long as the tenant cannot show their existence prior to or during the period they occupied the property.

Keeping this in mind, it should be emphasised that the renter cannot be held accountable for damage caused by normal wear and tear on the premises. This is referred to as ‘fair wear and tear’ that occurs with age or continuous usage.

If, on the other hand, you have purposefully or accidently harmed the property, you are responsible for the repairs as well as the cost. Of course, determining what constitutes damage or fair wear and tear is a fuzzy area among renters, agents, and landlords; regrettably, this sometimes results in a disagreement over “unfair” claims.

Nonetheless, if a renter has provided basic care and upkeep, any degradation of the property over time might be considered reasonable wear and tear, according to reasonable Trading NSW. For example, the renter is not accountable for a fracture in the wall that happened without the tenant’s intervention. Damage, on the other hand, is defined as holes or fissures created by hammering nails or installing wall-mounted fixtures.

Missing things, damaged or shredded furniture, drapes, etc., scratches on the floor, carpet stains, bad or unauthorised painting, and cuts on kitchen counters are all examples of damage. 

What you are not accountable for, but a landlord or agent may claim you are, such as scuff marks on hardwood floors, furniture indentations on rugs/carpets, faded or frayed upholstery, and chipped/peeling wall paint that is already there before you moved in.

How to Avoid Cleaning/Damage Disputes

When writing out the condition report at the start of the tenancy, it is crucial to pay special attention to details in every room and outdoor space.

This will be used as evidence if/when fraudulent allegations are made about the state of the property before moving in and the current condition. It is also a good idea to take photos and videos of any damage or lack of cleaning that you notice when filling out the condition report because they will serve as evidence if the agent or landlord claims that the house was in better condition or’spick and span’ when the keys were handed over to you.

Another crucial strategy for avoiding conflicts is to respond quickly when harm happens. Whether it was caused by a member of the home or a visitor, the landlord should be notified promptly, and actions to restore the damage should be performed. Similarly, if/when damage happens through no fault of the tenant’s, it is best to take pictures/videos and notify the landlord as soon as possible.

A broken water pipe or a leak that generates water stains on the carpet are two examples of this. Regardless of the circumstances, timely and clear communication is crucial if you want to prevent a later conflict.

When it comes to paying for cleaning or damages at the conclusion of a lease, knowing your rights as a tenant and how to protect yourself against fraudulent or unreasonable charges is essential. 

Always double-check the condition report before agreeing to pay for damages or hiring a professional cleaning service, since these costs may not be your responsibility to begin with.