Guest blog: Steve Harriott, Chief Executive of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme talks about the common problem of cleaning disputes.

by Inhouse Reporter 23. November 2012 16:10

NALS Guest Blog by Steve Harriott, Chief Executive of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme

In the first of a regular series of blogs Steve Harriott, Chief Executive of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme talks about the common problem of cleaning disputes and how you can avoid them.

Over the last 5 years TDS has dealt with over 45,000 disputes.  In that time cleaning disputes have always been the most common reason for a dispute about a tenancy deposit featuring in over half of all disputes we adjudicate.

Experienced agents also won’t be surprised to learn that damage and decoration issues also feature strongly.

Yet despite cleaning being the most common cause of dispute, gathering good evidence for these cases still seems to remain a challenge for many landlords and agents.

To investigate this conundrum further TDS recently reviewed all cleaning disputes on which it adjudicated over a four week period to discover why landlords were not gaining the full amount they claim.  Several reasons emerged:

43% of landlords or agents did not supply any invoices or estimates. This meant that there was no evidence to support the actual amount they were trying to claim, leaving the adjudicator to make their own assessment of what was reasonable.  In the absence of any invoices or estimates it is always going to be difficult for the landlord as they are not giving the adjudicator any cost evidence with which to justify the deductions;

Where invoices and estimates were supplied many lacked a breakdown of costs to show what the amount charged was actually paying for.  For example some invoices covered costs for items not mentioned in the check-out report;

Some claims covered things which already needed cleaning at check in. A full award would have meant betterment of the property at the cost of the tenant and as you know adjudicators are not permitted to award amounts for betterment;

When comparing the condition of the property at the start and end of the tenancy, the amount being claimed by the landlord was more than what the tenant should reasonably be expected to pay – for example, where cleaning claimed for was not identified in the check-out report;

Tenants are liable for leaving the property in the condition in which they found it, allowing for fair wear and tear. If you want to deduct an amount from the deposit, be accurate in the amount claimed and make sure you have kept all the necessary paperwork to back up your claim, such as inventories, check in and check out reports invoices and estimates.

The TDS website at has details of examples of studies of cleaning disputes both in our case studies section ( and in our monthly adjudication digest (  This information is open to non-members as well to read and download.

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