End of lease cleaning – how to get your bond back

Written by view.com.au in Renting

Have you just woken up in a sweat in the wee hours of the morning, shaking off the nightmare of your property manager calling to say they are taking $300 of your bond repayment to pay for cleaning? Never fear, we’re sure it is a common nightmare across the country. Will anyone spot the coffee stain in the corner?

You could certainly give up coffee and save yourself the fear or ever making a spillage again, but nobody ever really wants to give up coffee. And don’t even mention wine. Instead, keep this tab open for the remainder of your lease and memorise what your responsibilities are in regards to end of lease cleaning and getting your bond back in full.

Unfortunately for the more clumsy out there, a property manager or landlord does have the right to use some of your bond payment to pay for cleaning or repairs following the end of your lease, as long as this cleaning addresses issues that are not considered ‘wear and tear’.

Kitchen and bathroom cleaner products sit on a benchtop along with a brush.

General ‘wear and tear’ and end of lease cleaning

The law in Victoria states that a landlord should expect their property to be left ‘reasonably clean’, but allow for ‘wear and tear’. This wording leaves enough room for common sense to enter the stage when discussions begin between a landlord/property manager and their tenant. If they cannot come to an agreement about what constitutes wear and tear, they then have the option of referring to VCAT, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Similar processes exist in the other states, with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal acting as the point of contact for contesting any claims made by a landlord through NSW Fair Trading.

It is generally cut-and-dry deciding what constitutes fair wear and tear. In NSW, only damage that occurs due to negligent, irresponsible or intentional action can be counted as the tenant’s responsibility.

Take a look around the property. Is their flaking paint on the walls? Fading carpets and curtains? Tired looking wooden floors or sliding doors that resolutely refuse to slide? That is not your responsibility, as wear and tear comes down to the landlord to fix at their own expense. Some unscrupulous landlords may claim that it is your responsibility to report this wear and tear and that because you haven’t, you must pay for their repair. This is not true. Regular property inspections are the responsibility of the landlord to carry out, and it is during these that they should pick up on such things.

So, what end of lease cleaning do you need to carry out?

While you can leave a property at the end of the lease without doing any cleaning, you should then expect the property manage to set aside some of your bond to pay for a general clean of the property.

To save yourself this money, spend time cleaning the following areas where a property manager will look for grime:

  • Kitchen cabinets and pantries. Cupboards and draws in a kitchen often accrue a thin film of dirt and oil from various cooking products. If you are a renter, you most likely know what it is like to get into a property to find kitchen cupboards that are in desperate need of a clean before you can even move your boxes. Make sure you spend time cleaning this area before you hand over your keys.
  • Bathroom. The bathroom is another area that quickly develops spots of grime. Some bathrooms may lack appropriate ventilation so that you can claim that any mould that has developed is the responsibility of the landlord. If not, make sure you clean up any areas where grime has built up, such as between tiling and behind the toilet.
  • Skirting boards. These often get ignored by tenants, even when they live in the property. Skirting boards collect dust very quickly, but are easily vacuumed. When a property is vacated, the dust along a skirting board becomes quickly apparent, which may lead a property manager to call a professional cleaner at your expense.
  • Windows are a must for a clean when moving out. A cleaner may charge extra for certain windows, so save yourself significant expense by doing this yourself at the end of your lease.
  • Outside areas. It can be easy to miss these when cleaning up. You don’t have to go as far as hiring a high pressure hose, but sweeping up outside areas and weeding any spots that have become suburban jungles will ensure you receive your full bond.

If you are going to take anything from this article, perhaps take the advice it is best to stay on top of the cleanliness of your property during your tenancy. Even if you start to clean a few weeks before you move, this will make the process much easier come moving day. Spend a morning on a room, such as the bathroom, so that you don’t have to don the cleaning gloves after a full day of lifting boxes.

Beyond cleaning your property, there are a few more considerations to tick off on your checklist to make sure you receive your bond back in full.