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“Broom clean” at the end of a tenancy: what landlords should watch out for

By Sadiya Anjum

At the end of every tenancy, the renter is required to leave the property in a clean state. But how clean is “clean”? Most lease agreements, require the tenant to leave the property “broom clean” when they leave. Most authorities on real estate define ‘broom clean’ as “the ideal condition of a building when it is turned over to an owner or tenant”. So now you ask how ideal is “ideal”?

Ideally clean for a Stepford mom would be shampooed carpets, immaculate floors, shining faucets and to a bachelor it could mean there are no stale slices of pizza sticking to the counter. There really is no way of defining what clean is. But when most landlords are doing the final walk-through of the property with the tenant, the least they expect to see is the property having suffered only a reasonable amount of regular wear and tear. In such a case, the deposit would be returned intact (provided there were no other previous damages). But burn marks on the carpet or big holes in the walls is unacceptable in which case the landlord would have to deduct a certain sum from the deposit.

Here is a small list of things that need to be in order; else the landlord is justified in deducting a reasonable amount from the deposit. So tenants watch out for these! Every single room should be examined for the following:

  • Scratches on the floor
  • Carpets are torn/ burnt
  • Windows with screens missing or glasses broken/missing
  • Walls have holes or are scratched/ scribbled on
  • Fixtures on the ceiling and walls have become loose
  • Air conditioning, heaters, etc. are not working properly/ knobs and dials have become loose or not functioning
  • Kitchen stove is just as bad
  • Kitchen exhaust is filled with grime and does not work properly
  • Refrigerator is in a bad condition/ not as cold as it should be
  • Kitchen cabinets are filthy/ are scratched
  • Counters are scratched/ have burn marks on them
  • Tiles missing in the bathroom
  • Bathtubs and showers are caked with grime/ cracked/ not functioning properly – in terms of hot and cold water, pressure of the water etc.
  • Faucets and taps are not functioning/ broken
  • Toilet lids/ toilet paper holders are cracked/ broken/ have disappeared
  • Toilets don’t flush properly because the flush is malfunctioning/ leaking

Apart from the aforementioned, check other appliances, countertops, fireplace (if there is one) or other items that are specific to your property. The ideal thing for a tenant to do is to photograph/ videotape the property before moving in because if the burn marks were already present then you won’t have to pay for it.

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