Reasonable cleaning?

Question from Amanda updated on 10th June 2016:

We have recently ended a tenancy and during the end of tenancy clean we accidentally left marks on the ceiling. The marks arose from trying to clean fly spots, firstly with spray and wipe on a rag, and then just warm water on a rag after we realised that marks remained after drying. We have tried removing the marks to no avail. Is it fair for a portion of our bond to be deducted to cover the costs of repairing these marks? As it was the result of reasonable cleaning, we do not feel that this is "careless or intentional damage".

We also had carpets professionally cleaned at the request of the property manager despite them being in great condition. We enquired as to whether it was necessary, and even offered to use a rug doctor as a compromise, but were told that no, we needed it cleaned professionally as per the tenancy agreement. I have just learned that this may have been an unfair request - is there anything we can do about this retrospectively?

Our expert Bernard Parker responded:

When you move out you are required to leave the property “reasonably clean and tidy”. If it means that you wash the whole ceiling rather than just the specific areas on it where fly dirt is located, that can be a reasonable interpretation of the requirement. It depends on the context – what does the ceiling look like now, compared with when you moved in?

The carpets are a different issue. The Tenancy Tribunal has ruled that a clause in a tenancy agreement requiring carpets to be cleaned at end of tenancy is inoperable unless special conditions apply (such as permission for a tenant to keep pets at the property). The reasoning is that in normal circumstances you cannot assume at the start of the tenancy that the carpets will be so dirty at end of tenancy as to require cleaning. The judgement call has to be made at end of tenancy rather than the start. If you wish to challenge the property manager’s justification you can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for a hearing and for refund of your carpet cleaning cost

Bernard is principal of Quinovic – Kapiti-Mana. Quinovic's outstanding people and systems provide the most professional, effective and reliable residential property management service in the NZ market for over 30 years.

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