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Repairs & Health Requirements
Q.In a few weeks, I am moving from the apartment I have been renting. I know that my lease states that I have to keep the property clean, but I am not sure what my landlady expects me to do. I really want my security deposit back so I want to be sure to do all I have to. How can I be sure I do all that my landlady expects?
You do have an ongoing obligation to keep the premises clean. If there is nothing in your tenancy agreement about the degree of cleanliness required by your landlady when you move out, you can always ask her now for some details. A minimum level would probably include things like cleaning the oven and fridge, washing out cupboards, and cleaning bathrooms. Even if your tenancy agreement does give a list of items that must be cleaned upon termination of the tenancy, that is not necessarily what you have to undertake. The tenancy agreement cannot take away rights and protections that you have under the Residential Tenancies Act. The Act requires a tenant to keep premises "reasonably clean" and does not allow for deductions from a security deposit for normal wear and tear. The items requested in the tenancy agreement may go beyond what is reasonable or normal wear and tear in your individual circumstances and would arguably fall outside your obligations.
For example, there might be a request to steam clean the carpets. Whether it is reasonable for you to have to steam clean the carpets will depend upon the condition of the carpets after you have been living there. If they are soiled because of the use you have made of them (e.g. if you smoked or had pets who had accidents on them) then, in accordance with your obligation to keep the premises clean, you should steam clean. If on the other hand, you have not lived in the premises for very long and the carpets are clean, then you may not have to steam clean them. Another view might suggest that for health reasons, it is reasonable to require tenants to steam clean at the end of a tenancy.
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