As a landlord, you want your tenants to take good care of your property and keep it clean. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Dirty tenants are more than just a nuisance. Their bad habits can damage your property, make it difficult to re-rent, and decrease its value.

It can be difficult to identify a dirty tenant before they sign the lease, unless their past landlords are willing to share information with you about that tenant’s bad habits. You can, however, protect yourself from dirty tenants by building some requirements into the lease agreement.

Typically, a landlord cannot regulate the cleaning habits of a tenant, unless the condition of the property meets the following criteria:

The condition of the property violates the fire code;
The condition of the property violates the health code;
The condition of the property could harm the occupants;
The condition of the property could damage the structure.

However, you can place stipulations in your lease regarding the cleaning of the property. The landlord can require the tenants to hire a monthly maid service. You can also put a clause in the lease stating that you have the discretion to hire a cleaning service on behalf of the tenants if the property is not up to par and to bill the tenant for that expense. Your lease can also stipulate that if the premises are not clean when the tenants move out, you can hire a cleaning service and deduct the cost from their security deposit. The key here is to make sure that all of these scenarios are spelled out in the lease. It is better to give strict regulations in the lease and then give yourself the option to be more lenient later on than vice versa; you cannot enforce a rule that is not clearly stated in the lease.
Examples of Dirty Tenants:

Hoarding behavior – possessions block walkways or exits;
Mold or stains on walls;
Pet feces that is not contained in a litter box;
Trash that is not regularly removed from the home;
Infestations of insects or rodents;
Unpleasant odors emanating from the property;
Food remains or unwashed dishes;
Damage to appliances due to lack of cleaning.

How to Help Tenants Keep Your Property Clean

In some cases, this may be the first time your tenants have lived on their own, and they may just not know how to keep a house clean. They may need a little guidance from you. As mentioned previously, you can protect yourself by giving yourself the option in the lease to hire a cleaning service if necessary. This accomplishes two goals – the property gets cleaned, and the dirty tenant will typically not renew the lease.

Hopefully, though, you won’t get to that point. You can prepare your tenants by giving them a checklist of cleaning responsibilities when they sign the lease. This checklist should detail each tasks, and it can even mention which products or methods work best for accomplishing these tasks. You should note that failure to adhere to the checklist is a violation of the lease. If you run into a problem, tour the property with the tenant and point out the areas that need to be addressed. It may seem uncomfortable, but this is your property, and you want it to be well taken care of.

McMath Realty provides property management services for landlords in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa and surrounding area. We will take care of handling all the day-to-day responsibilities of renting your property, including screening tenants, performing maintenance, and dealing with issues with tenants.

Contact McMath Realty to learn more today

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