window cleaning property management guideWindow cleaning is a good luxury expenditure in property management that can actually go a long way to making things look good. As a general rule of thumb, each individual occupier will tend to clean their own windows as and when they want to, just like at home. For larger properties though, with multi-let scenarios, it can become more involved in terms of both how this is practically done, for example accessing high and hidden areas, and secondly how they are carried out on a shared basis to keep the cost coherent and low.

Therefore other people other than occupiers and tenants tend to get involved, whether that’s the landlord direct, a managing agent, or a main contractor and facilities manager. Whilst there is specific detail and specifications to consider, here are a few general pointers to help steer things in the right direction. These are from experience of actually arranging window-cleaning services as part of a property management service, and therefore a little bit out-the-box in terms of what aspects you need to remember:

1. Don’t Forget the Frames

A lot of times the ‘window’ cleaning will literally just be the glass, particularly from at height when you’re relying upon a long-reach pole, and therefore over time you may see a collection of general grime and cobwebs around the main frames. Clarify with the window cleaner what any extra cost is for these parts, particularly at lower levels where more easily seen, and even if this part is carried out less frequently then the main glass clean.

2. External and Internal Areas

The focus tends to be just the external faces as they receive the weather elements against them, and they’re the part that a third-party like a managing agent can often arrange on a shared basis. This leaves the internal areas, which can be left to each occupier to arrange as necessary, if nothing else because it can be difficult to arrange access for all areas at the same time. However make sure the internal faces of any communal corridors and access ways are included in the communal service as well as all external areas as there is no direct occupier to deal with these.

3. Who’s Responsible For the Cleaning?

This starts getting technical, where you need to look at the written liability of the windows in each area according to leases and other documentation. So as above, it may be a simple case of the tenant needing to look after the internal faces of their own windows and noted so in their lease, with the landlord doing all communal windows inside and out, and all external windows.

But what happens when this amount of detail is not specified, and even if a landlord is still responsible for the actual windows serving a tenant area in terms of repairs, does this include the cleaning of them as well.

4. The Non-Window Parts

Two obvious examples are a entrance door with glazing parts, and any canopy over them. Not only make sure they are included, but also possibly more frequently cleaned as they are the most visible items that people often see as well as experiencing the most amount of use.

5. Are There any Barriers?

Not literal barriers, although for nearby building works there may be, but things that get in the way of the window cleaner being able to access these easily and quickly. Two common examples for those on higher stories are balconies that cover the area and don’t allow easy access without the cleaner going through the occupied area, and secondly items like plant pots and hung-out washing getting in the way.

6. The Extra Mess From Building Works

A classic example being a new home where the adjacent site is still being built out; not only do you have the additional mess to clean off from when it was first built, but it can still blow over onto the completed ones whilst the rest of the site is still being developed.

7. The Dreaded Flat Roof

At first they seem so appealing to allow easy access for any window cleaner, but they are riddled with liabilities and potential problems. You not only need to safely access the flat roof and then make sure it is strong enough to stand the weight of people and equipment on there, but you then have to ensure it is safely used with potential safety harness equipment and edge barriers to ensure complete safety, all to be clarified with detailed risk assessments and advisors.

8. Watch Out For the Flow of People

You ideally want the windows to be cleaned when no one is around so that firstly there is little risk of them having water or other items fall on them, and secondly they pose no risk to the actual window cleaner and bumping into ladders and distracting them.

You’ll therefore often find out what core hours are most beneficial, and you need to consider those not directly affected, for example any retail shops below flats and ensuing that you’re not clashing with their busy periods which may be an early morning for a bakery but later evening for a takeaway.

9. Be Loaded With Signs and Barriers

They’re the bread and butter of safely managing the whole exercise, with clear communication to everyone what is happening. Think of all angles as well, including those that may try to leave a building during a clean as well as arrive at one, and how they need to immediately know about what’s happening and how the risks are being managed.

Also, any definite no-go areas will need cordoning off and safely controlled.

10. Know What Equipment Will be Used, and What’s Needed to Service This

So as an example you tend to see a lot of long-reach people systems now around to reach higher level windows which is great for not needing a ladder to access but poses new risks of potentially being unstable to handle with a severe wind and needing to be near a water supply tap or storage within a vehicle if water is being pumped out of the equipment.

Also, check out what nitty-gritty equipment is needed, right from the cloths, buckets, and even just plain water cleaning.

11. More Than a One Man Band

Check how many people will actually be carrying out the work, and what their roles are. For some jobs you will need a second person to be around, maybe not to actually clean but as a banks person, and someone who can keep an eye on things and to make sure that the main cleaner is not at risk from say nearby pedestrians and traffic.

12. Keep the Windows Shut

Yes this is an obvious one, but easily missed during say the summer months. Sometimes, and maybe with a little skill, the window cleaner can gently move the pane shut to ensure that it can be accessed for cleaning and no water is poured in through the window.

13. Get the Right Risk Assessment, Including Work at Height Issues

This is particularly important for activities like this, with so many potential issues that you need to think through. Even with a well-qualified and experienced window cleaner, still actually meet them on site and talk through the issues and how they will manage them on that particular site, including any different circumstances that may arise such as bad weather and increased people and vehicle activity.

14. Get a Personable Attitude

If you have a grumpy window cleaner, then they will stand out like a sore thumb to everyone and create a bad impression, no matter how good a job they do. A lot of experienced cleaners know this, and are friendly, helpful, and even provide a nice little tuneful whistle as they go about their business. The sort of individual you can then easily trust to liaise with occupiers and work through any niggly queries.

Of course, these 14 pointers are not exhaustive, and there will be more to add, but they’re helpful to give you a bigger picture glimpse of the whole window-cleaning exercise. Before even speaking with a window cleaner, for those involved with property management and arranging them at a property then its important to look at what you’re trying to achieve, for what areas, at what cost and frequency, and for who this is.

The next stage is then to go through the finer detail with an actual window cleaner who as per the last point should be helpful and personable whilst still taking the safety and service aspects seriously.

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