Frivolous it might be but I don’t fall out with my tenants because…..

by Mary Latham

15:10 PM, 28th November 2011
About 8 years ago

Frivolous it might be but I don’t fall out with my tenants because…..

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Frivolous it might be but I don’t fall out with my tenants because…..

There have been some really interesting comments on the EU Trying To Kill Buy To Let – sign the petition to STOP it now. blog and it is great to see some new people contributing to this important discussion but I am feeling a bit frivolous at the moment and I thought that I would post on a lighter subject.

According to MyDeposits one of the main reasons that landlords stop money from a tenants deposit is to cover the cost of cleaning. This is interesting because I would have thought that damages might have come above cleaning. Mary Latham

I always try to give my tenants 100% of their deposit back and I do everything that I can to help my tenants return my property to me in a decent condition. I am realistic and I realise that, as Ina Sharples said in early Corry, “What’s clean ta sum is mucky ta others”. I am very careful to ensure that my tenants understand what I expect from them because time and money can be lost if the property needs too much cleaning and redecoration.

I send a letter 3 months before the end of the tenancy term and in this letter I list the possible costs of any work that may need to be done. I include cleaning costs and photographs- copies of which they signed at the start of the tenancy- and a copy of the Inventory and Schedule of Condition which includes room layouts showing the position of the furniture – I do not want to be dragging heavy furniture from room to room. As an aside I include a Section21 Notice to ensure that I have vacant possession when they leave in case they fail to give me notice or “forget” to return the keys. This saves time and avoids issues of abandonment etc.

When this letter is received I often get a call or email asking me how they can clean an item and this is music to my ears. These are the things that I recommend to my tenants

  • Coke is the best cleaner on the market. It cleans, sanitary wear, sinks, taps, cookers and many other things. There is no elbow grease needed just pour the coke into a toilet and leave it overnight and in the morning “ping”. Soak some kitchen towel in Coke and wrap it around grubby taps and cover in cling film after a few hours the “nasties” are all gone and the tap is sparkling even in hard water areas. Kitchen sinks that are stained with tea will come up like new in a few hours.Mark Alexander was sceptical when I told him that the Coke that he drinks is a great cleaner but when he had a blocked drain he could not clear he remembered what I said and bought some bottles of Coke. It cleared the drains where other chemicals had failed.
  • When a tenant has failed to open a window and there is black mould on the walls there is no point in them painting over the mould because it is a living organism and will come back quickly. The walls need to be cleaned with white wine vinegar to kill the mould and when it is dry a quick coat of emulsion will restore the wall to its former glory
  • My pet hate is a dirty oven and I found a brilliant product called Oven Pride. It comes with a bag into which you put your oven trays and pour some of the liquid. Leave over night and in the morning the grease has melted leaving the trays like new. The product comes with full instructions but you only need to pour the remaining liquid into the oven and spread it, within a few hours the oven is clean and ready to wipe out – again no elbow grease needed.
  • Stainless steel is easy to clean but difficult to leave smear free. Baby oil will remove any smears and leave it nice and shiny
  • A dirty microwave is easily cleaned with a cup of lemon juice mixed with sodium bicarbonate placed inside and microwaved for a couple of minutes. The lemon will evaporate and condense onto the metal surfaces melting the grease ready for a quick wipe out. The same mixture can be warmed and used to clean and deodorise a fridge or freezer.

I do all my own cleaning and many people laugh at me but I am an expert cleaner and a control freak; even the cleanest tenant rarely leaves my properties as clean as I want them to be for the next tenant. I like to be “green” where possible but I rarely have time to scrub for hours. Cleaning is very therapeutic and keeps me grounded but I always look for the quick and easy way.

Have you got any tips on cleaning or anything else to “avoid the void” and falling out with tenants when they move out? I would really like to hear from anyone who knows how to clean Blu-Tack off walls without leaving the greasy marks that are so difficult to emulsion over. I would also like to find an easy way to clean tile grout. I find smokers toothpaste very good but hard work. That’s another tip never throw away old tooth brushes they are great for getting into little nooks and crannies.

I can see Mark Alexander cringing as he reads this because he likes to be “hands off” just as I like to be “hands on”. Come on Mark you must have some tips after all your years as a landlord?



Comments

Ian Ringrose

10:37 AM, 6th December 2011
About 8 years ago

I have seen a few tenancy agreements saying that the property must be professionally clean by an approved company (list of local companies provided) at the end of the tenancy paid for by the outgoing tenant. They also say that there will be admin changes for the agent has to arrange the cleaning as well as any lost rent due to the time it takes to get the cleaning done.

We let from two different argents that did this; in both cases as we clearly left the property in a good state they did not try to enforce the clause. Even if the clause is not legally enforceable, it does give a message about the standards that are expected.

I don’t know how you cope with tenants moving out of the area, as it is impossible to do a good job of cleaning until the property is empty; we had to travel back the weekend after we moved to sort out one place we were renting. (The agents still wished us to travel back AGAIN so we could give them the keys back while they were open; they just got the keys posted to them by registered post arriving before the end of the tenancy.)

10:33 AM, 7th December 2011
About 8 years ago

If you need a good mould killer/bleach - HG Mould Spray has been a god-send and is even student-proof! Spray on grout, leave, come back and the dirt has disappeared!! Don't breath it in though.

Mary Latham

18:36 PM, 7th December 2011
About 8 years ago

Jayne I have used that in the past and I bought it from B&Q but they no longer stock it. Where do you buy it please?

22:57 PM, 7th December 2011
About 8 years ago

I Googled it and found it at Lakeland. I've also bought it at local tile shops and my student tenants liked it so much, they found it at a local DIY store! Seems to 'kill all known germs' - and I'm sure some that haven't been discovered yet! A tip a builder gave me was to leave it soaking on cloths over the mastic in showers for a while to get the mould out. One day someone will invent a mastic that really does last without going mouldy!

Mary Latham

10:40 AM, 8th December 2011
About 8 years ago

Thank you Jayne I have a Lakeland close by. I always buy the sealant myself to make certain that is is good quality with a 35yr guarantee because I have found that money contractors use very cheap products to seal showers and also windows and it constantly needs to be replaced when it goes mouldy I find the Unibond bathroom & kitchen is excellent.

22:03 PM, 7th January 2012
About 8 years ago

I am off to buy some coke to test this on my taps!

Mark Alexander

23:33 PM, 7th January 2012
About 8 years ago

Prepare to be amazed Sam, I was, I still can't stop talking about it to friends LOL

1:48 AM, 8th January 2012
About 8 years ago

Just a bit about cleaning and I haven't used it myself yet.
My new tenants moved in before I had time to clean it after it had been repainted following long-stay tenants.
So builders dust and just that old tenant smell lingered.
Anyway advised that I was going to have to clean it.
The tenant,(female of course!); advised me that no she would prefer to do the cleaning herself.
I advised that it had to be carried out to a professional standard so that it was at that level of cleanliness as and when she ever terminated the tenancy.
She had no problem with this.
The waves of relief over me when she advised as such was enormous!!
As a way of compensation I advised her that I would pay her to carry out the cleaning.
She initially declined any payment; but I insisted!
I subsequently checked the flat after her cleaning and you could eat your dinner off the floor.
This was all achieved by a cleaning steamer.
Along with a an oven cleaner spary and a bit of elbow grease.
This steamer was amazing and I would commend those cleaning obsessives(MARY!?) to such a cleaniing device.
I have borrowed my tenant's steamer and intend albeit reluctantly to clean another recently repainted flat following eviction of the former tenant.
I am toying with the idea of asking my tenant whether she would be interested in cleaning this flat aswell.
I'm with Mark on this cleaning lark; alright Mary I'm lazy,...................but I'm a man!!!
However all your advices Mary are fantastic; better than Aggie anyday!!

1:56 AM, 8th January 2012
About 8 years ago

I seem to recollect that there is such a sealant.
It was advertised in the NLA magazine some years ago, along with a nifty little device for those with shower curtains that avoided water fallng on the floor at the curtain edge.
Mary might know as she is a member of the NLA.
I gave up membership years ago.

Mary Latham

11:53 AM, 8th January 2012
About 8 years ago

Who is Aggie?  I have a steam cleaner that I bought in B & Q for less than £50 years ago - it has done good service.  Apart from cleaning, steam cleaners are great for killing fleas left in carpets by animals and sterilising door and sanitary wear handles. They are also good for taking the creases out of new curtains. Rather than ironing them I hang them on the windows and run the steamer over them its very quick.

I am not obsessive Paul but I aim for 5 star hotel room standard when I hand over a property. To me a thing is either clean or dirty there is no grey area, It is not a lady thing a close friend of mine, a man, is a much better cleaner than I am and he also cleans his own lets, his wife lets him get on with it because she says her cleaning is not good enough for him.

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