Have you been charged by your landlord for having a dirty oven and had money take out of your security deposit? Or are you worried that they might? It’s a fairly common occurrence, so you are not alone.
In this article, I am going to discuss whether a landlord is justified in making you foot the bill for oven cleaning upon move out and some tips on how you can prevent this from happening to you.
I will also cover related topics such as how much you can be charged for this cleaning, whether you can clean your oven yourself (and what works best) or whether you need to hire a professional.
Let’s get into it.
The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
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Most Leases Have Move Out Provisions So Read Your Lease!
Your lease is the most important document in determining whether your landlord can charge your for cleaning the oven. Most leases have move out provisions which lay out your responsibilities upon moving out.
For example, my lease states the following:
“Ensure that the Premises, including kitchen, baths and all appliances, floors, walls and windows, are thoroughly cleaned, that grass is cut and trash is removed.”
Under my lease, you would absolutely need to make sure the oven (which is an appliance) is thoroughly cleaned before the move out inspection.
Note, though, that it does not specify that it must be cleaned professionally. More on that later.
Now your lease may be different, so it definitely pays to read it carefully.
Even if your move out inspection section does not contain anything definitive, check other sections of the lease too. There may be obligations to keep the premises clean while you are living there and you can get dinged for violating that.
If the lease requires you to have a clean oven and you don’t, the landlord is well within their rights to charge you for the cleaning.
Now this begs the question – how much can they charge me for cleaning the oven?
How Much Can My Landlord Charge For Cleaning the Oven?
Again, you will want to check your lease to see if there is anything on point, but in all likelihood, it will be silent on the issue. It will probably say you will be charged for the cost of repairing any damage to the premises or something generic like that.
But a good rule of thumb is that your oven should be cleaned to the condition it was in prior to your moving in, normal wear and tear excepted.
If the oven was already in pretty rough condition, you do not need to pay for a new oven, simply because it does not look new when you end your tenancy.
As far as costs for cleaning in general, a landlord should only charge what a reasonable cleaning company would charge for the same level of cleaning. I have seen prices for oven cleaning ranging anywhere from $50 to $150. But you should do your research for cleaning services in your area – get a few quotes.
If you think your landlord is overcharging you, provide some evidence of this and ask if you could have the oven cleaned by one of these services instead.
Why Should I Clean the Oven Before Ending My Tenancy?
Some people might think that it’s easier for them to just let the landlord clean the oven and charge them for it. You can certainly do that, but understand that this will probably cost you.
As we just discussed, you don’t know how much your landlord will deduct from your deposit. He might end up charging you more than what you could have paid to get it professionally cleaned.
Best to take care of it beforehand and not roll the dice on something like this.
Should I Clean the Oven Myself or Get It Professionally Cleaned?
Check your lease first and see if it states whether the appliances have to be professionally cleaned. If it doesn’t then you are within your rights to clean it yourself.
Now you don’t want to do a poor job of it or you might still get charged, so make sure the oven looks clean when you are done. I have cleaned a lot of ovens in my time and I still think the easiest and most effective way to clean built-up food and grime is to use something like Easy Off Heavy Duty Oven Cleaner.
If that doesn’t work, try putting in a bowl of ammonia overnight in the oven (and keep the oven closed). The fumes break up baked on food and oil food like you wouldn’t believe. But the fumes are pretty strong, so I’d start with Easy Off.
Now, if you’ve already left the unit without cleaning the oven, you can ask your landlord for permission to come back and clean it. They may be cool about it and let you do this. It could save you some money and headache down the road.