Many tenants would rather not have to clean their own units. They feel that it is the landlord’s responsibility. Many landlords tell their tenants “if you don’t take out the garbage, I’m not going to pick it up”. It is rare for a landlord to make any promises about changing light bulbs or keeping the yard mowed.
Tenants are often surprised when they find that how clean their house must be is one of the most frequent topics discussed by landlords and tenants during lease negotiations. Landlords want very clean houses, but most will agree to almost anything in order to get a good tenant who pays on time and respects other people’s lives in the building. To most landlords, dirt doesn’t matter too much, but an accumulation of dirt does matter. To most tenants, cleanliness seems like a basic principle of life that doesn’t need discussion.
This article discusses the duty to keep your house clean (and how it differs from apartment to apartment) and lets both tenants and landlords know what is considered dirty by law. It also tells you what to do if you don’t think your landlord is doing his or her duty when it comes to cleaning the common areas of the building, like halls and stairways.
How to Keep Your House Clean?
If you want to keep your house clean and pleasant, here are some ideas for your consideration:
1) Use a dehumidifier in the basement, where moisture accumulates quickly. To make sure mold doesn’t grow, install an exhaust fan in the window and run it continuously when the dehumidifier is on. Ventilate well with bathroom or kitchen fans when showering or cooking and be sure there’s good air circulation in all rooms (heat rises). Prevent dirt from accumulating by using rugs and floor mats in high-traffic areas such as doorways, entryways and laundry rooms. An occasional vacuuming helps remove particles that collect beneath these items.
2) Regularly dust surfaces such as furniture, shelving, books and knickknacks; vacuum carpets; wash or dry-dust window blinds; wipe woodwork with a slightly damp cloth.
3) Keep clutter off the floor by using bookcases, cabinets and other storage devices. Use these for storing papers , files, pictures (by hanging them), holiday decorations (in tubs or boxes) and toys (in baskets). If shelves are deep enough, use them to store small appliances such as toasters. If not, keep small appliances in drawers where they belong instead of on their sides on counters where they can fall down and burn you when you’re cooking.
4) Vacuum ceilings once in a while with an attachment for your regular vacuum cleaner. Above kitchen cabinets is a frequent area where dirt accumulates.
5) Cleaning refrigerators, air conditioners and wood-burning stoves are frequently overlooked when cleaning the house because they’re difficult to move. But it’s necessary to dust or vacuum these items from time to time. You can wipe down wood surfaces with a damp cloth but never use harsh cleansers on them. If the surface is chipped, worn or peeling, refinish it rather than just paint over this damage.
When checking appliances for dust bunnies be sure all controls are wiped clean of fingerprints that get transferred from one area to another while you’re operating appliances like ovens, dishwashers and microwaves. Don’t forget about light fixtures in high places around your home! Dust buildup there too if you find it takes a lot of time to dust your home each week.
6) Remove the stress by hiring a house cleaning service on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. A reputable business will arrive at your home, clean it top to bottom and put everything back in its place. This is the quickest way to keep your household running smoothly as you won’t have any surprises when company comes over!
Regulations on Tenancy
One of the most important regulations on U.S. tenancy agreements is that a landlord can tell you how clean to keep your house within reason. If you are thinking about having regular guests stay over with you then it is in your best interest to get things straightened out before they start coming over.
Because if your guests are paying for their accommodations then that would be seen as illegal subletting by the landlord and could either lead to eviction or at least raised eyebrows for future landlords. When people have friends stay overnight it’s usually not a problem but when renting an apartment or home it is definitely something to consider when moving forward.
Most houses have some kind of lease agreement that will give regulation on these types of circumstances like no loud parties or no overnight guests. If you are not on a lease agreement it’s usually better to err on the side of caution and discuss with your landlord how he or she would like you to keep your house, if they don’t want any visitors then that means no staying over at all.
How to Deal With a Messy Tenant?
One of the landlords’ big concerns is how to keep their tenants. The first thing you should know is your rights as a landlord and what can be done if they are not met. When it comes to cleanliness, the rules are quite clear.
How much freedom do you have in telling them? What steps can you take if they don’t comply? Let’s answer the most popular questions from the landlord’s perspective:
Can a landlord charge for damage?
It’s one of the landlord’s most burning questions. The short answer is yes. If your tenants cause any damage to the house (whether it be physical or emotional), they will have to make sure you can’t see it when you come around for check-ups or viewings. You are also free to charge them for professional cleaning services that need to be done after their departure if it were dirty before they moved in. However, keep in mind that your charges can’t be too high as this could lead to disputes with them and cause difficulties in getting them out of the house when needed. You can always ask a professional cleaner for an estimate themselves so you know not to exceed during billing.
What rents can be used as a basis to determine the level of cleanliness?
One of the landlord’s rights is to determine how clean or not your home should be. You have the choice, but it’s recommended that you check out various aspects before coming up with a score. For example, if you’re renting a room in a house, then standard criteria will apply. If however, you are leasing an apartment from someone, you might have better luck getting them to allow pets or having them cover their part of the utilities.
In this case, the rules would depend on what was stated in your contract and how much damage could they do by keeping their pets outside (in this specific case). Keep in mind that renters can be messy and might drive you nuts sometimes, but the least you can do is be fair.
What if they have pets?
According to laws, landlords are not allowed to discriminate against pet owners. This means that they would have to allow them even though they didn’t promise it in their contract or advertise it as “Pet-friendly”. However, pet-friendly rentals may cause problems with other tenants who are afraid of animals or simply allergic.
If this is the case, then the landlord has every right to let them know how many pets will be allowed (if any). By law, if they don’t comply – you can evict them without giving proper notice. Keep in mind that illogical reasons for eviction like “messiness” or “noise” are not acceptable.
What can you do to ensure a strict level of cleanliness?
The easiest way to ensure keeping the environment clean would be to go through their rental references. That should give you an impression regarding how neat or messy they can get. Another option is to simply create a checklist stating what is expected from your tenant and attach it to the contract. If they don’t comply – you can evict them with proper notice given (30 days). However, this decision should not be based on discrimination, but rather on how well they managed to meet criteria previously agreed upon.
Contacting a local property management company may also help you deal with this issue if you feel it’s out of your control. They would hire a professional cleaning crew to come by from time to time and inspect it for you, giving you access to better options. In this case, the best thing to do might be notifying your tenant right away that they’re expected to meet certain standards or get ready to see your property management in action.
What are the laws regarding the standard of cleanliness?
The standard of cleanliness is different in each state. It can vary even in local areas transforming into something else entirely in just a 10-minute drive – which means that there are no “standard” rules in effect. That’s why it’s advisable for landlords to know what to demand and create their set of criteria when signing contracts with tenants instead of sticking with what’s written in the law.
What if they don’t meet your criteria?
If for any reason your tenant decides to break the rental agreement and fails to meet official rules imposed by you (according to your contract), then you can terminate their lease agreement which means that they would have to move out as soon as possible (30 days usually). Keep in mind that this decision cannot be based on discrimination.
However, if it is proven that they simply stayed at home all day long watching TV – then the landlord does have a right to evict them without proper notice first. In other words, there are no exceptions. Whether you use a local property management company or not – being a good landlord requires going through everything with a fine toothcomb so that you can figure out what works and what doesn’t.
How Do I Get Tenants To Clean Regularly?
There’s not much you can do if a tenant isn’t going to keep their unit or common areas clean.
You should have a clause in your lease agreement that requires the tenant to leave their rental property in the same condition as they found it at the beginning of their tenancy – except for normal wear and tear. If you don’t have such language in your lease then there is nothing you can do if a tenant doesn’t take care of the rental property.
The only exception would be if the damage was caused by neglect on your part (for example, faulty electrical wiring).
Can a landlord keep my security deposit for repairs?
If your landlord is withholding all or part of your security deposit for cleaning or repairs, they need to tell you in writing. You should always keep copies of any letters you send and receive from the landlord (and tenants association). Sometimes landlords will try to deduct money without telling you first, this is illegal.
Can a landlord charge me if I don’t vacuum my carpet before I leave?
Yes, but only if it’s written into your lease or rental agreement that you have to do it! If not, then let’s say there’s $300 of damage to the carpet, and $300 is the price of steam clean of that sort of carpet. But if you can get it cleaned for $100, then your landlord cannot charge you for anything over that – because they’re not entitled to charge more than the actual cost of repairs or replacement.
Can you be evicted for having a dirty apartment?
Yes. If you’re a renter, it’s not just about what your lease says – where you live matters. The laws that say how clean or dirty your apartment can be are usually aimed at protecting public health and safety. It is therefore illegal for landlords to ask for more than what they absolutely need to do that – like they might ask you to keep the floors swept but not vacuumed. Especially when it comes to smoke, mold, bugs, vermin, if it doesn’t affect the structure of the building or pose an actual risk to neighbors or passersby, then it shouldn’t matter.
What are the tenant’s responsibilities to keep the rental clean?
When you move into a rental, the landlord cannot tell you how to clean to keep the house. The tenant is responsible for keeping the rental reasonably clean, but there is no set standard for what “reasonably clean” means unless it is written in a lease agreement. Otherwise, it’s up to you and your family.
What can a landlord do if a tenant keeps a rental dirty?
If the tenant doesn’t keep the place reasonably clean, then the tenant will have to give back or pay rent for any days they did not meet this obligation. If they don’t, then it may be ground for eviction. In some cases, if there are health hazards in a rental because of lack of cleaning by tenants, then police authorities may get involved in order that the premises be cleaned up or that the tenant may face fines if they don’t clean it themselves.
Can a landlord look in your closet during a home inspection?
Yes. Landlords can look in your closet or other storage areas during an inspection. However, the landlord cannot go through your belongings while you are not there.
Can a landlord charge you for damages to his property?
Yes, the landlord can charge you for damage to his property (e.g. if you break something during your stay.) Many landlords require that tenants carry renter’s insurance so they do not have to pay for any damage caused by their tenant’s negligence.
Can landlords do inspections during Covid?
Yes, a landlord can have an inspection of the tenancy during Covid, especially if an apartment or house can potentially become a hazardous place for other tenants.
Can a landlord come and inspect your house?
Yes, a landlord can come to an apartment and inspect it before allowing someone to move in. They can also come at the end of your tenancy to assess damages and see if you properly cleaned up after yourself.
Can a landlord look in drawers?
That depends. This issue is governed by case law, which means it’s the result of court decisions based on specific cases. When you rent an apartment or house, your lease will probably contain language about inspection rights (also called “right of entry”) for the landlord. This allows the landlord to enter your place during normal business hours for various reasons—such as making repairs.
But if your agreement says nothing about these rights, then the landlord should not be allowed to come into your home unless they have reason to believe that there is some kind of emergency situation—for example, a stovepipe has started a fire in the kitchen.
How often can a landlord inspect a property?
If you rent or lease a place to live, your landlord or lessor has the right to enter into the rental unit in order to inspect it. In this case, “enter” means going into the rental unit with your permission and for legitimate business reasons. Your landlord does not have the right to go inside your rental unit whenever he/she feels like it, but can only do so under certain circumstances.
One of these circumstances is when the tenant agrees in the lease that regular inspections are included as part of your rental agreement. The inspection clause should be included in writing at least seven days before any proposed entry date and should specify reasonable times for entry such as daylight hours.
A landlord also has the right to enter a rental unit if there is an emergency such as a fire or major water leak, and the tenant agrees that the landlord does not need to give notice before entering in these types of situations.
If the landlord violates your right to exclusive possession of the rental unit (the right to control who comes in and out), this may be considered an illegal entry. An illegal entry is where you have not agreed, orally or in writing, to let the landlord enter for a certain reason. If your landlord enters your unit illegally, then you should tell him/her that he/she is not allowed to come into your home without your permission. If it happens again, keep a detailed record of what happened including dates, times, and witnesses whenever possible.