Landlords have been advised to clean properties between one tenant or set of tenants moving out and new tenants moving in, however outgoing tenants should not view this as a reason to abdicate their own cleaning responsibilities - and doing so might result in a deduction from their tenancy deposit.

The advice from the Scottish Government in relation to properties being newly let during the COVID-19 pandemic states that "properties should be deep cleaned in the period between the property being vacated and a new tenant moving in."

This is an important duty to carry out under the current circumstances and reflects the measures that everyone from bus operators to restaurant owners are taking to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Between the previous tenants moving out and the new tenants moving in, any number of people - besides the landlord and/or letting agent - may have been in the property, for example tradespeople and potential tenants viewing the property. With evidence that COVID-19 can remain infectious on certain surfaces, it is essential that surfaces are cleaned ahead of the new tenants arriving in case the virus may have been unwittingly brought into the property by a recent visitor.

To return the property in the same condition as you found it is a golden rule that is enshrined in the vast majority of tenancy agreements. As with any points on a tenancy agreement, if the obligation has not been met by the tenant and the landlord has evidence to show that this is the case then the landlord may seek to claim a deduction for cleaning costs from the tenancy deposit.

But the landlord has to deep clean the property due to the pandemic, so surely I don't have to do it too?

The landlord's obligation to their new tenant is completely separate from the outgoing tenant's obligation to the landlord. The tenant should - as per the terms of their tenancy agreement, a legally binding contract - still clean the property to the standard it was at when they moved in.

Consider also that cleaning does not stop at disinfecting surfaces - it would be unreasonable to expect that the landlord's duties in making the property safe for the new tenant should include removing grime from ovens, or having a sofa professionally cleaned to remove pet hairs. Granted they would have little option but to remedy such issues if that is how the property is left, but they would have the case to claim for any costs incurred as a result. This applied prior to the pandemic and continues to do so. One thing to note is that under current guidelines landlords and letting agents should wait 72 hours before entering a property after it has been vacated at the end of the tenancy. A very small amount of dust could form within this three-day window and this would be taken into account within reason by an adjudicator if dust formed part of a cleaning claim.

Legally binding agreement aside, cleaning the property at the end of your tenancy is showing the landlord the same duty of care that they are showing to the next tenant by minimising the risk of them being infected by coronavirus. It is also worth noting that even during a tenancy regular cleaning is more strongly recommended than ever in the current circumstances, particularly in shared households where different tenants may be coming and going from workplaces, schools etc. Keeping the property clean throughout your tenancy will help to keep you and your co-tenants safe during the pandemic, with the added bonus of making that final clean before you move out less of a mammoth task.