Onerous exit inspection

Andrew asks:
(updated on Sunday, September 20th 2015)

Our tenancy is coming to an end and the property managers have sent through a checklist for the exit inspection. While most items are what you would expect, one item is 'carpets to be professionally cleaned (receipt to be produced).' We are non-smokers with no pets. The house will be professionally cleaned anyway so the carpets will be thoroughly vacuumed after we move out. Is it reasonable to ask for the extra expense? There is no mention of this requirement in the tenancy agreement. Also, it asks for lawn edges to be trimmed and weeds removed from paths and garden beds. This is asking for a lot more than the standard of the place from when we first moved in. The house is old and was fairly dinged about when we moved in. How can we best deal with these excessive requirements?

Our Experts Answer:

At the end of a tenancy you are required by law to leave the property "reasonably clean and tidy". There have been Tenancy Tribunal decisions that have rejected a carpet cleaning clause such as you describe. The reasoning is that at the start of a tenancy you cannot assume that the carpet will need cleaning at end of tenancy. That decision has to be made at the end. However, if the landlord's inspection reveals stains or badly trodden paths on the carpet, it may well indicate that carpet cleaning is required. 

In short, it is the condition of the carpet that will dictate whether it needs to be cleaned. Weeds and path edges are different. If the property was presented to you with the gardens weeded and path edges trimmed then it is reasonable that you should present it back to the landlord in a similar condition. If you have comparison photos from the start of tenancy you should be able to establish the standard that prevailed when you moved in.

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