Landlords have different expectations for their tenants. So, can a landlord tell you how clean to keep your house?
A landlord has the right to set the standards for how clean you keep your house. This is because a dirty house may breach the lease agreement and may cost the owner a lot of money for repairs in the long run.
They must be reasonable though, and it is best to ask what they expect instead of taking their word for it.
If you are not sure, see if there is a handbook or anything that will tell you what they want to be done around the property.
Read on to learn more about what a landlord expects and how you can keep your house clean so that you can rest assured that you will receive part or all of your security deposit at the end of the lease.
Table of Contents
- Can a Landlord Ask You to Clean?
- How to Keep the Property Clean and Avoid Charges
- Final Thoughts
Can a Landlord Ask You to Clean?
A landlord can request that you keep the rented property in a habitable and clean condition, to be determined at the end of the lease.
Your landlord may include a clause in your lease agreement stating the house must be kept clean. It is always best to ask what they expect instead of taking their word for it.
Try to ask for any information in writing, such as through email. This will help to avoid any misunderstandings and will give you something to reference if there are any disputes.
What a Landlord Can Do If the Property Is Not Clean?
If your landlord finds that the property is not clean, they may send you a notice to clean up the property. This notice should state what needs to be done in order for the property to be clean.
The notice should also state a deadline for when the work must be completed and that if you fail to correct the problem, then your landlord will hire someone to do it or deduct from your security deposit how much they believe it cost them to make the repairs themselves.
If your landlord is complaining about general messiness, this is not enough for them to evict you, but it could be a breach of the lease agreement.
What Is a Reasonable Standard of Cleanliness?
A landlord is allowed to set reasonable standards for cleanliness, but these cannot be so high that it becomes impossible for the tenant to meet them.
For example, if a landlord wants to charge a tenant for daily wear and tear that isn’t directly caused by the inhabitants, this is not a reasonable standard according to the fair housing act.
However, if the tenant’s behavior or the number of visitors has caused the damage directly, then it is reasonable for them to have to pay.
If there are disagreements over cleanliness, try using objective standards instead of subjective ones when trying to come to a resolution. Do research to find out what is considered clean in your area or, if you do not know, ask a neutral party.
Am I Responsible for Major Repairs in My Rental Unit?
A landlord is able to make you responsible for major repairs by giving proper notice and getting approval from the courts if needed.
You can be held liable for damages or injuries caused by defective conditions in the property that were not fixed after you received notice.
The landlord must also provide you with details of what the defect is and how it will cause problems to your health or safety if not repaired, which they can supply in writing.
Does My Lease Agreement State What Type of Cleaning Is Required?
A lease agreement may state that you are responsible for keeping the place clean.
If not, it is best to ask what your landlord expects out of you. There are some obvious things they will expect, such as removing trash and not making a mess.
Anything that could cause a fire hazard, such as not cleaning the oven, should also be a priority. But landlords may also have other expectations, like window washing or carpet shampooing.
If you are unsure of what is expected, it is best to ask and get it in writing to avoid any conflicts later on.
What Happens if You Don’t Clean Before Moving Out?
If you do not clean before moving out, your landlord has a few options.
They can hire someone to do it and deduct the cost from your deposit, they can take the cost out of your last month’s rent, or they could file a lawsuit against you.
It is always best to leave the property in the same condition as when you moved in. This means cleaning everything and making any necessary repairs.
If it is not possible to return the property to its original condition, then your landlord may still be able to take legal action against you due to the rental laws you agreed to when signing the lease.
How to Keep the Property Clean and Avoid Charges
In general, keeping the rental property clean is the best way to make sure that you are not charged for damages and are aligned with the lease agreement. Here are some of the best ways you can take care of your property:
Regularly sweep and mop all floors, especially in high-traffic areas. This can help to avoid dirt and dust build-up.
Vacuum all carpets at least once a week. This will help to get rid of any allergens, pet hair, and dirt that may be building up.
Wash all dishes and put them away after each use. This includes the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom sinks. Stock up on effective cleaning tools, such as pumice stones to clean the shower and toilet.
White vinegar is a great solution to keep on hand since it can remove mineral deposits, soap scum, and hard water stains.
If you struggle with cleaning on a regular schedule, organize your cleaning tasks into a cleaning checklist. This can help you to stay on top of everything in a timely manner.
You can save time and money by using clever cleaning hacks, and if you have a larger budget, you can hire a cleaning service to take care of the heavy lifting for you.
Sometimes a dirty apartment can be caused by too much stuff. Try to get rid of any unnecessary belongings and organize what is left.
This will help you to clean surfaces and floors more easily, as well as allow for better airflow in the property.
Every item in your house should have a home. This means that when something is out of place, you should know exactly where to put it to restore order. If you don’t have a home for something, discard it.
Use your garage or storage space to place items that you won’t be using on a daily or weekly basis. This helps to prevent a fire hazard from having too many things plugged into an outlet or gathered in one area.
Keep the Bathroom and Kitchen Clean
These rooms usually get the most use in any property, so they are often the dirtiest too.
Make sure to clean them regularly with special attention paid to high traffic areas such as the sink where dishes are washed or surfaces that have been splashed on.
Mold growth is one of the biggest concerns in kitchens and bathrooms, so make sure to clean up any moisture that has built up on fabrics, bathroom walls, or countertops.
If you notice a build-up of mildew or mold around the sink, bathtub, shower/tiles, or toilet, then it is likely time for deep cleaning.
This can be done with a bleach and water solution made from half a cup of bleach per gallon of water. Be sure to test this solution in an inconspicuous area before using it on the entire surface.
Keep Up With Minor Repairs
If you are proactive about small repairs, it can help to keep your rental property in good condition.
This means addressing things like leaky faucets, loose doorknobs, holes from nails and cracked tiles before they turn into bigger problems.
It is also important to be aware of what is covered in your lease agreement so that you do not end up paying for something that is not your responsibility.
Eliminate Any Unpleasant Smell in the Home
When people come into a property, the first thing they notice is the smell.
If your place smells bad, then it doesn’t matter how clean you keep it because the property owners will have to hire a cleaning service to clean the apartment building or home.
In order to keep your rental unit smelling fresh, try to eliminate any source of unpleasant odors.
This means taking out the trash regularly, keeping pet areas clean including the litter box, and using air fresheners or aromatherapy oils as needed. This will also help to prevent critters such as bugs, maggots, or rodents from taking up residence on your property.
Don’t Let Your Personal Belongings Collect Dust
One of the easiest ways to keep your rental property clean is to not let your personal belongings collect dust.
This means putting away all clothes, toys, and other items when they are not in use. It can also be helpful to invest in storage solutions like under-the-bed storage boxes or closet organizers.
If you have a craft room, then make sure that you take down all of your supplies and put them away when they are not in use. This will help to keep the rest of the house clean too.
Take Care of the Outside of the Property
The outside of your rental property is just as important as the inside. Make sure to keep all walkways and entrances clear of debris and clutter.
If there is a lawn, then make sure to mow it and trim the bushes on a regular basis. Paint or seal any fences that need it and remove any graffiti as quickly as possible.
By taking care of the outside of your rental property, you are showing that you respect the property and are willing to maintain it in a clean condition.
Your rented apartment or home may also come with a landscaping service or a mowing service. Make sure to take advantage of this as often as possible because it can help you save time and effort on a regular basis.
Don’t Let Kids or Pets Mess Up Your House
Kids and pets often make messes that are difficult to clean up, so try to be proactive about keeping them out of the house if possible.
For example, if you have kids then make sure that they are not eating or drinking anywhere except the kitchen and dining room.
Also, try to only play with any messy activities like painting in specific rooms where it can be cleaned up easily afterward.
If kids or pets do make messes inside of your rental property, then try to clean it up as soon as possible so that it doesn’t attract bugs and rodents.
It’s also helpful to invest in products like disinfectant spray for germs and antibacterial wipes for any spills.
Maintain Your Appliances
Another important aspect of keeping your rental property clean is to maintain the appliances inside.
This means taking care of things like washing machines, dishwashers, ovens/stoves, refrigerators, microwaves, coffee makers, etc.
That way they will continue to function properly and you won’t have to pay for repairs or replacements.
Make sure that everyone who uses the appliances knows how they work before leaving them unattended. It’s also helpful to keep a cleaning schedule so that heavy use items like ovens are cleaned out regularly.
Can a landlord tell you how clean to keep your house? To the extent that they are providing you with a habitable, clean place to live, the answer is yes. But beyond that? No way! Your lease agreement will always be the most legitimate protection you have against an eviction notice from the property owner.