So, you’re at the end of your lease. You have days to move out, and among all the other stresses of moving there’s the need to clean the place for the final inspection. And for a bunch of reasons – work, moving, not wanting to pay simultaneous leases, whatever – you figure that you’ll get cleaners in to do the job in the dying days of your tenancy.
So you Google “end of lease cleaners”, find someone, tell them how many rooms and so on, get a quote, say yes, and arrange payment. And then they turn up and there’s a problem.
Oh, you didn’t say how big the place is. You didn’t mention that the ceilings were all the way up there. You didn’t say that people had been pooping in the toilet for *years*. Something. Anyway, they underquoted and it’s going to take much longer, so now it’s going to cost you more.
With few other options – after all, you have to hand the keys in tomorrow! You have to go get the mail redirected! – you just fume and pay up, rendering you further out of pocket at a time when, since you’re a renter, you’re probably pretty financially stretched in any case.
If this sounds familiar, you’re far from alone.
In fact, when a friend mentioned on Facebook that this happened to them, I was only one of many people who replied with variations on “…the HELL? That’s exactly what happened to me!”
It turns out that this is a super-common trick. As is, as I inadvertently found out, not realising that this is a scam and responding with “um, sorry, that was the quote and I don’t have any more cash right now” and then getting a phonecall saying that there’d been an “accident” and the cleaners would be back tomorrow, then disappearing forever.
And one the one hand: great work, dodgy cleaners. You’ve identified a vulnerable cohort of people ripe for extortion and come up with a scam which combines plausible deniability with a wonderfully low risk of being caught out.
One pro-tip from a renter who’d been burned was to contact the agent or landlord for a recommendation. Most have cleaners they use on the regular, and who are therefore very motivated not to lose that relationship by ripping off a tenant.
So what do you do if you’ve been stung? We asked NSW Fair Trading and they had some advice.
“NSW Fair Trading advises customers who are dissatisfied with services provided by a cleaning company to contact the trader and try to resolve the matter in the first instance,” a spokesperson told us.
“To make better informed choices on services provided by businesses, Fair Trading encourages consumers to search a business on the ASIC public register or other online reviews.”
And if you’ve been done already?
“Customers who are unable to resolve their issues with the trader are advised to lodge a written complaint on the Fair Trading website.”
So put that complaint in writing, friends, so that others might be alerted – and be canny about your cleaning choices.
Because you don’t want to steam clean that filthy carpet yourself, right? Just look at it. LOOK AT IT.
Seriously I don’t even feel comfortable walking on the thing.