One of the main responsibilities in property management is handling disputes and managing expectations from your tenants. Even with the most comprehensive lease agreement and the ideal tenant, this cannot be avoided.

Major disputes that you should be ready to handle are those surrounding the security deposit and the condition of the property at the end of the lease. At the end of a lease, both the tenant and landlord may have differing views on the level of cleanliness and the tenant’s responsibility.

Action Properties has several years of experience in the property management industry. We have devised a full-proof method to help landlords through this process and also protect your interest by use of an end-of-tenancy cleaning checklist.

The End-of-Tenancy Cleaning

The end-of-tenancy cleaning refers to a deep and thorough cleaning of the rental unit before the tenant moves out of the premises. This ensures that your unit is handed back to you in a state similar to how it was before the tenancy.

Every element of the unit should be cleaned thoroughly, including the walls, floors, furniture, fittings, and appliances.

The Importance of an End-of-Tenancy Cleaning

Most tenants want to give the property a unique and personalized touch. They may make physical alterations which can vary from a change of wallpaper in the bedroom to adding in new fittings in the living room. While some of these alterations may be allowed as per the lease agreement, some are not.

A hallway with bright green wallpaper

The end-of-tenancy cleaning assesses the condition of the furniture, building elements, and appliances to ensure that they are in good condition. If not, the tenant is at risk of losing a portion of their security deposit to cover the damages. In cases where the damage is over the top, the tenant can be requested to add money to the security deposit.

Level of Cleanliness

The question of ‘how clean’ always arises between landlords and tenants. From a landlord’s perspective, they have an attachment to the property and would wish for it to be in the best condition possible. A tenant, on the other hand, may have a different opinion on how much work they’ll need to do.
We recommend setting expectations from the beginning. You should give the tenant a point of reference that they can rely on when you raise issues about any cleanliness or damages.

As you hand over the property to the tenant, ensure that all rooms are in pristine condition and all appliances are working as they should. On the move-in day or prior, you should have a tenant walkthrough of the premises to document its condition.

A documentation of the condition is a record of every aspect of the premises. You should note down the condition of each room, fixture, and appliance. During the inspection and recording, also take photos which can be dated and referred to later.

A person writing in a notebook

Wear And Tear

Even with the utmost care and maintenance, an asset is bound to show signs of use and aging. This is what is referred to as normal wear and tear.
Wear and tear is a result of the natural forces of time, elements of nature, and daily living. Some of the signs of wear and tear can include faded paint, worn out carpets & blinds, and scuffed wooden flooring.

As a landlord, you should not expect your tenant to cover repairs that are a result of wear and tear. This is stipulated in state law, and should you contravene this law, you can find yourself paying hefty fines in court.

What Should The End-of-Tenancy Cleaning Entail?

Here are some examples of what should be done during this cleaning:

  • Cleaning the floors of the unit
  • Sweeping and vacuuming of the rugs and carpets
  • Cleaning windows, doors, and associated fixtures
  • Removing grit and scale from the sinks, bathtubs, and shower areas
  • Deep cleaning of all appliances, especially cooking appliances like the microwave and oven
  • Wiping down all kitchen cabinets, drawers, and cupboards
  • Clearing out all garbage and non-essential items from the house
  • Emptying all garbage bins (both inside and outside of the house)
  • Tidying up outside areas

A floor being swept

This is not a comprehensive list but it should give you an idea of how thorough the end-of-tenancy cleaning should be. The property should ideally be free of hair, dust, dirt, scale, grease stains, and all forms of spills.

End-of-Tenancy Inspection

After the tenant has cleaned out the property as expected, it is time for an inspection. It will do you well to rely on the documentation of the condition from before the lease period together with the dated photos.

If the property has been cleaned to expectations, the landlord has no claim on the tenant’s security deposit. The deposit must be returned in full within the set number of days as per the law. If the unit is not as clean, the landlord can make a claim, taking a percentage of the deposit to cater for cleaning expenses.
The decision to withhold part of the deposit must be unbiased and have a substantial claim. In some cases, a tenant can choose to contest this. In addition, all costs must be recorded and receipts of purchases kept well.


Property management involves a myriad of challenges, responsibilities, and obligations that you must meet as a self-property manager. Should you lack the expertise, we recommend you rely on the #1 property management in Silicon Valley and Palo Alto.

Specializing in property management, Action Properties is the leading service provider in the region, offering full-service property management solutions. Our portfolio consists of townhouses, condos, single-family residences, and multi-family properties.
Get in touch with us today and receive a quote for our property solutions.