Tuesday, 22 April 2008

How Clean Is Your Hoover?

Most new leases feature a clause insisting that tenants have the flat professionally cleaned before they vacate, on pain of losing that precious deposit, which used to be the landlord’s responsibility. By nature I am a slob. Even so, the thought of losing money concentrates the mind, and I am turning into one of those weird compulsive Stepford scourers.

Recent news reports suggest that some women gain a subtle sexual satisfaction from cleaning. Not me. I would love to have a cleaner for that scrubbing (actually I want staff.) I contacted my landlord from Glasgow, the sainted Adrian, who had written a reference glowing with praise about my upkeep of his property. I cleaned that flat from top to bottom, and stood back to admire my work. Then Adrian arrived and put me to shame. He cleaned efficiently until the cooker sparkled and you could perform aseptic surgery on the carpet.

That’s why he was the man to ask about the black concrete glued to my rarely used oven. The only plausible explanation is that medieval kitchen goblins are roasting sucking pig basted in treacle whenever my back is turned. Even Adrian was at a loss, so I cleaned it with a terrifying substance so toxic and acrid it dissolved my eyebrows and made me ‘happy’.

Initially, Dovecot Towers seemed okay, until I realised that the windows had been brushed over with a dirty cloth; I have trouble with my sight, and thought I was going blind again. I’ve been driving H mad with queries about the efficacy of vinegar for banishing those weird soap stains from the glass shower screen. Eventually I used science: acetic acid dissolves calcium carbonate. Will somebody please alert the Nobel committee?

My habit of slathering myself in thick hand cream means I leave a trail: there’s a Turin Rentergirl made with from cake crumbs and Shea Butter to be scraped up on a weekly basis. I’m especially pernickety about toilets. One flat I rented had a previous occupier with problems in every aspect of that area. I do so hope he’s better now.

The building site opposite blasts mortar dust towards the building, and so cleaning is a never ending journey. Our new caretaker spotted that the professional window cleaners who visit once a year delicately wiped the outside with a splash of cold dirty water; and yet I am expected to keep my flat as clean as a Victorian hospital ward.

My friend faced down a picky letting agent, who inspected his flat by marching languorously around all snotty like, dead set on retaining the deposit. Imperiously and pointedly she ran a finger across the dusty shelves and a table, but my friend calmly pointed out that since he owned both items, frankly - they could be as filthy as he wished. In obvious desperation, she spluttered: ‘…maybe, but that Hoover’s filthy and you’ll have to pay to get it cleaned.’

There was a brief silence as they absorbed the absurdity. Even the landlord laughed out loud.


Anonymous said...

Given that you'd be hard-pressed to find standard terms that did not obligate you as a tenant to have the premesis "professionally cleaned" (or words to similar effect) with the managing agent the sole arbiter of standards - it's rarely worth your while even attempting this (or arranging it for that matter) - limit your entire exposure to agreeing which quote for the service to approve (and I say this having taken ex-landlords to court and err the cleaners over precisely this).

Also - something you may not be aware of, but tangentially related - prior to the introduction of the Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme, many managing agents simply used your deposit monies to bolster cashflow...

Some agents and landlords have been open in saying that under existing arrangements they use that money [the deposit] to run their business,' says Liz Phelps, social policy officer at Nacab. 'Our concern is that when the new legislation comes into force, some of them may be even more keen to find other ways to raise money.

... so come check-out day, any refund generates a corresponding balance sheet liability that they may have not in fact been able to cover (lettings is a very, very low margin enterprise). However the courts take a very dim view of this - research the word "apportionment" and avail yourself of MoneyClaim Online once esconced in your next abode.

RenterGirl said...

Yeah I know, the landlords just sucked up extra cash in deposits to spend on booze on a friday, I am sure.

I also say: take pictures when you move in, and discuss with your landlord any faults you may have noticed. My 'new' flat had huge footprints of poorly washed of white paint. I mentioned it in writing.