This Property Is Not Clean Enough

In my previous business, a holiday accommodation in Far North Queensland, we had over 50 cleaners on our payroll. One of many interesting points about our cleaners, and mind you, over the years there was hundreds of them, was that they all thought they cleaned better than the other cleaners on the team. They all took such pride in their cleaning ability and they would happily verbalise just how good they thought they were. Curiously, they would also happily find fault in each-others work!

This subjective perspective of what constitutes cleanliness led these good honest hardworking people to genuinely believe they did a better job than the rest.

Very quickly I learnt to accept that they were all correct – they did do a better job than the next cleaner (in their minds). The trick was to discover what aspect of cleanliness that they “obsessed” about. Some cleaners would spend twice as long on a kitchen, or a bathroom, under the bed or even the frames of photos. It became clear to me that each individual had a pet-hate or pet-love/focus, and they each had different areas where they focused their cleanliness scrutiny.

The subjective nature of cleanliness is something that we can all relate to, even industry regulators The Residential Tenancies Act in Victoria covers the issue of cleaning very loosely, and quite deliberately, by using the term “reasonable” I’m confident that I don’t need to explain what the reasonable means, however, this term is also open to interpretation, and perhaps deliberately so. Determining what is reasonable can make things very difficult sometimes, especially with a tenant or landlord who believes that only their standards of cleanliness are, in fact, reasonable.

Let me elucidate what the Residential Tenancies Act stipulates in relation to the standard of the property at entry:

  • Section Landlord’s duty in relation to provision of premises (1) A landlord must ensure that on the day that it is agreed that the tenant is to enter into occupation, the rented premises are vacant and in a reasonably clean condition.

  • Section 63. A tenant must keep the rented premises in a reasonably clean condition except to the extent that the landlord is responsible under the tenancy agreement for keeping the premises in that condition.

It is interesting to note that often, when tenants vacate a property, they can be heard to say “the property is cleaner than when we arrived!” But, was the kitchen cleaner than the bathroom? Were the windows cleaner than the shelves? Were the walls cleaner than the tiles? Not that this subjectivity really matters, because the only relevant question is whether or not the property is in a reasonably clean condition.

Many tenants will hire professional cleaners when they vacate a property. This is certainly not compulsory (unless agreed to in your lease), however, it does makes life a little easier during the chaos of moving out. But, it is important to remember to get the carpets steam cleaned – this is not subjective cleanliness and it is the only way to ensure that they are reasonably clean!

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