Whilst it isn’t unreasonable to expect your tenants to keep your commercial property clean, asking your tenant to clean the space they’re renting isn’t a legally enforceable request.
For the duration that a tenant occupies your property, it is their property, and they are entitled to manage the cleaning of the property in any way they choose.
Unfortunately, unless there is an immediate danger to health or to your property’s structure, then there is very little you can do about it.
Some landlords add a clause into their tenancy agreement about cleanliness, and whilst there’s a chance it may help, it isn’t legally enforceable.
However, landlords with problematic tenants who do not comply with basic hygiene expectations may find the issue increasingly serious, particularly where commercial waste and dirt attract infestations, impact the property’s value, or cause long-term damage.
Here, the Clearway team runs through our advice for protecting the value and condition of your commercial property, proactively preventing conflicts related to cleanliness, and how to take swift action to remedy the problem.
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Regular Property Inspections
Ensuring that you make routine inspections to check on the condition of your property can help to encourage some tenants to clean up before an inspection, but not all!
It also gives you the opportunity to check on the condition of the property and carry out any maintenance required to prevent it from falling into disrepair.
During these property inspections, you’re perfectly within your right to make suggestions and recommendations as to how the property could be better looked after and why this is important.
While landlords should ensure they respect the privacy and rights of their tenants, regular inspections are the norm and are usually arranged with advance notice or at a pre-agreed time to suit both parties – dropping in unannounced is not appropriate – especially for a commercial operation.
Instead, a landlord can use regular inspections to keep up-to-date with the property’s condition and establish a dialogue where it may be possible to resolve problems fairly and amicably without assuming a lack of upkeep is impossible to address.
It is also very valuable to know if a tenant is not looking after the property as you expect since this might influence your willingness to agree to requests, such as formally extending the tenancy past the current end date.
Related reading: If you’re a commercial landlord, clearviewBI can help to consolidate and manages in real-time corporate tenants, analysing and generating enhanced visibility into corporate distress and the potential for rent default. This means you can anticipate problem clients before they become a problem! You can read more about clearviewBI here.
Serving a Section 21 Notice
Landlords used to be able to serve problem tenants with a Section 21 notice to evict them from the property after their fixed-term tenancy had ended.
However, the government announced that these Section 21 evictions will soon be made illegal in a bid to protect tenants from unethical behaviour.
In the meantime, a Section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction may be possible, but the industry is increasingly looking for other ways to manage difficulties within property tenancies without exposing potentially vulnerable rents to removal.
Applying to the court for a possession order may be the last course of action. Still, once a tenancy term has ended, a landlord can provide sufficient notice as long as they comply with the lease terms, rental property legislation, and the other conditions associated with a periodic tenancy.
Evicting a Tenant
In very rare cases, you may be able to evict a commercial tenant using a Section 146 notice if there any breach in the lease. Read more about our tenant eviction services.
A Section 146 notice is a legal notice issued under Section 146 of the Law of Property Act 1925 in the UK. It is a specific provision that applies to leases and addresses breaches of covenant by the tenant.
When a tenant fails to comply with their lease obligations, the landlord can serve a Section 146 notice as a formal warning and notification of the breach. The notice provides the tenant with an opportunity to rectify the breach within a specified period.
If the tenant fails to remedy the breach within the given timeframe, the landlord may take legal action, which can include forfeiture of the lease or seeking damages. The Section 146 notice is an important tool for landlords to enforce lease terms and protect their property rights.
Issuing a Notice to Quit
Landlords retain the right to serve a message informing a tenancy of a notice to quit – this means you want the property back but need to follow the specific rules relating to the type of tenancy agreement in question.
Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) normally allow landlords to provide notice when the tenancy is periodic, has no end date, or has passed the original date.
If the tenant refuses to leave by the end of the notice period, you can apply for a court-ordered possession, which can, in the most severe cases, require a further warrant for possession to allow bailiffs to get involved.
Unfortunately, if you discover you have dirty tenants using your commercial property, there is usually nothing more that you can do than simply grit your teeth and wait it out.
It is highly advisable you hire a professional cleaning team with the right protective and technical equipment where a rental property has badly deteriorated or where the dirt and rubbish are indeterminate.
Some types of waste and hazardous items should only be handled by properly trained deep cleaners, who wear PPE to protect themselves from biohazards, sharps and other chemicals, which can become more dangerous to health if left in situ for some time.
Our skilled extreme cleaning crews provide full sanitation, meaning that once the cleaning work is complete, you can proceed with a fresh tenancy without any potential concerns around liability, waste or hazards left behind or contaminants in the property.Read more about our extreme cleaning services.
Managing Costs of Cleaning Up After Messy Tenants
Perceptions of mess and dirt naturally vary, and in some cases, a tenant may tend to use the space in a manner that appears chaotic and dirty to others, but there are significant differences between the levels of cleaning a vacant property may require.
If a tenant leaves the property in poor condition and where professional deep cleaning is necessary to render the accommodation safe for a subsequent tenant, you may have recourse to deduct the costs from the deposit.
Most tenancy agreements state that the tenant is responsible for returning the property at the end of the tenancy in the same condition as they received it. It would help to have an inventory and, ideally, photographs to back any claims of damage caused by mess and dirt.
Disputes over deposit retentions for end-of-tenancy cleaning are common, so we’d recommend keeping receipts and records of all the cleaning services and costs, where an adjudicator might decide that a landlord cannot expect a tenant to cover general outgoings such as carpet cleaning – but that serious and dangerous dirt and grime are deductible charges.
Get in touch with our team here to find out more about our extreme cleaning services if you need to return a particularly filthy commercial property to a habitable state at the end of a tenancy.