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

18:20 PM, 8th January 2012
About 8 years ago

Aggie is part of that duo on tv; How clean is your house
Rgarding obsession there was a rather large tongue in m y cheek.
Yes I agree your5 standards that we landlords should all aspire to; though I am sure not many of us will reach that point; but we can but try!!
Igather from your response that you use steam cleaners as part your process so imagine you consider them good products?

Mary Latham

22:10 PM, 8th January 2012
About 8 years ago

Yes Paul I think that are a very important part of a landlords kit.  I prefer a steamer to using elbow grease, they are great on really mucky ovens and grills, tiles behind cookers etc.

I did realise that you only teasing me.

Mary Latham

17:52 PM, 4th February 2014
About 6 years ago

This discussion was mentioned in a thread and I came back to read it again. I thought that I would pass on another great cleaning tip.

When the sealant around showers, baths and windows goes black. Buy a pack of cotton wool. Put a stripe all over the the black area and pour bleach onto it. The cotton wool stops the bleach from rolling off. 24 hours later "ping"

This has saved me time and money replacing the sealant.

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