Tenants end of lease cleaning and maintenance responsibilities

What are the end of tenancy cleaning requirements when you leave a rented property? Many will be surprised to learn that your standard weekly clean will not cut it if you want to get your security deposit back.

When vacating your rental property you have several responsibilities to meet so do a cleaning and moving checklist and see to it that the property is handed back to the agent ready for occupation by the new tenant. Bearing in mind if you were the new tenant moving in, would you be happy with the condition which you’ve left behind?

Be proactive! Anything other than fair wear and tear is your responsibility. Don’t wait for your agent to do the inspection and then have to appoint contractors to do the necessary cleaning and making good at your cost, as the agent can charge you for their time as well. Do it before the time, considering this all takes planning and work and one knows at least a month before that you will be leaving on a certain date.

What are the end of tenancy cleaning requirements?

Here is a list of requirements below which may help you out:


Well this is where we need to reiterate that your usual domestic clean won’t swing it. Don’t leave her there with some mops and broom while you’re busy moving into your new home and think a thorough spring clean will be carried out. Nine times out of 10 it won’t, leaving the agent having to call in professional cleaners (at your cost), because unless the domestic has been given explicit instructions to clean everything once the furniture is out, she will just do what her usual routine dictates.

So, once the furniture has been moved out ensure that it is thoroughly cleaned – it honestly is best to employ the services of a professional cleaning company unless you are able to supervise your domestic (which few people do as they’re also busy moving!).

What are the end of tenancy cleaning requirements?
What are the end of tenancy cleaning requirements?

For an end of tenancy ‘spring clean’ ensure that:

  • Every cupboard is wiped out and thoroughly cleaned internally and externally (don’t forget those cupboard doors)
  • Wash down walls (and marks left by couches, beds, or where a cupboard stood), and clean the skirtings and banisters
  • Wipe away finger marks on the light switches
  • Clean windows, frames & sills
  • Dust and wipe blinds
  • Clean flooring from corner to corner (including the corners).


They need to be thoroughly cleaned from top to bottom, including taps, tiles, plugs, and drains. And NB: shower tiles and grouting to be de-moulded and scrubbed down, and showers doors to be thoroughly cleaned ensuring there is no white soap residue on the doors. If there are shower curtains, be sure to clean these too.


Oven interior and door are to be completely cleaned and degreased, and likewise hob, and leave counter tops and sinks sparkling. Wipe cupboard shelves and drawers.

What are the end of tenancy cleaning requirements?
What are the end of tenancy cleaning requirements?


If mould (black spots) has appeared on any ceiling or wall this is generally due to poor ventilation – clean off with a Jik dilution or “Mould Away” spray (purchase from PnP or any hardware store) and if it was particularly bad you may need to repaint the ceiling.


Remember to book a carpet cleaning company in advance as they are always booked out over month-end, and timing is important as new tenant can’t move in with wet carpets, and also the property needs to very well aired – all windows open – for the day before you hand over to ensure they dry properly.

Remember to arrange the carpet cleaning for a morning so that you can ventilate well for the rest of the day – if only done late in the day and not well ventilated, you could end being liable for replacing carpets as once that damp smell gets into them you cannot remove it.

What are the end of tenancy cleaning requirements?
What are the end of tenancy cleaning requirements?


If you have placed nails in the walls (which as you know required permission) please remember that a touch up with Polyfill and a lick and a promise of paint won’t suffice. You will need to fill the holes and paint the entire wall, wall-to-wall.  Patch-painting will show because over time paint fades and the colour will not match (even with white paint), therefore it is not acceptable. So if you have fixed anything to any wall/s make a note of the paint colour on the ingoing inspection for this very reason.


Lawn cut, bushes trimmed, and garden neat. A few weeks before you vacate instruct your garden service / gardener to start the tidy up. Remember to book the last call-out for a day close to the time you are leaving so that the grass is freshly cut. Likewise ensure that the pool is clean and everything is in good working order. And remember that the patio paving needs to be swept and cleaned.

What are the end of tenancy cleaning requirements?
What are the end of tenancy cleaning requirements?


Advise your alarm company that you will be transferring the contract to your new address or that you are cancelling. Do this at least 1 calendar month prior to leaving.


Effect repairs to anything damaged or broken during the tenancy – if you are able to do this yourself, do so, but bear in mind that it needs to be done to a professional standard – so failing that call a known contractor (or ask the agent to supply contact details of known contractors).


If you have been left the use of curtains for the tenancy it would be a good idea to have these cleaned. DRY CLEAN or ask the agent to confirm with the owners as shrinkage can occur.


With wooden and metal blinds, please ensure that they are wiped down thoroughly! Nothing worse than seeing dust and years of build-up stuck to the blind.

APPLIANCES (if included):

Clean washing machine & dishwasher inside and out.

NB: clean the door rubber, soap drawers & filters! Defrost & clean fridge/freezer. Descale kettle, clean toaster, and microwave inside and out. Be sure to clean the surfaces behind and underneath moveable appliances.


Make sure all are in working order, i.e. replace any globes not working.


Clean the refuse bin, and leave it empty! Please it is really common decency to not leave the black bin filled with your last minute throw away’s left for the next bin day. If you leave a full bin we may have to get a contractor to remove the contents (costing you a call-out which is currently a minimum of R350) – likewise for anything else left lying around.

So load up your last refuse and anything else you need to get rid of and take it to the nearest Municipal dump/drop-off site (e.g. Rosmead Ave, Wynberg) to make sure the refuse bin is clean and ready for the new tenant. The guys who work at the Municipal dumps are really friendly and helpful, and it only takes a quick trip.


Try not to leave a prepaid meter with next to nil points in the meter – moving day is hectic enough without the need to run around to top up. Make sure you return the pre-paid meter card, or have the number handy for the agent or new tenant.


Have all keys and remotes ready for handover, and check your ingoing inspection report, i.e. if it says interior doors have keys you need to ensure they are all in place when you leave.


Redirect well in advance (also if you advise the Post Office they will redirect for a few months at no charge).

The property should be returned in clean condition throughout. Please don’t adopt the attitude – “those windows weren’t done for us by previous tenant so why should we do it…”

Be mindful that you were there for the duration of the lease, mostly likely a year or more, so whether it was handed over clean or not, you will need to clean thoroughly as you were in occupation and enjoying the use of the property.

GOLDEN RULE WHEN VACATING A PROPERTY… Leave it as you would like to find it!