Can a Landlord Tell You How Clean to Keep Your House?

Is it ok if your landlord tells you how clean your home should be?

Written by Olivia Paxton. Updated on Can a Landlord Tell You How Clean to Keep Your House

Whenever we are renting a house or apartment, we always have to make sure that we keep it clean and tidy so that our landlord doesn’t argue with us on that subject.

However, some people who are renting their homes often wonder whether a landlord can notify the tenant to clean property.

Some of you may think it is ridiculous, others may not. So where is the truth?

In this article, we will try to investigate a bit and figure out whether or not your landlord is allowed to tell you how to clean.

We will also try to find out whether it is legal at all to send a cleanliness notice to the tenant to clean property.

Also, you will learn a few handy tips and nuances about this subject that will help you a lot when you decide to move to another house next time.

Can My landlord Tell Me How Properly I Should Clean?

This can become a huge point of concern and a stumbling stone for many of those who are renting (or just going to rent) a house or apartment. Since this is not your property, you must follow the rental rules and regulations that are mentioned in your rental agreement.

And thus, you have to adhere to your landlord and obey his or her requirements.

However, what often happens is that one day you may suddenly receive a notice from your landlord that says to clean up rental property! What the heck is that?! Is your landlord allowed to send you that at all?

Well, let’s not rush and calm down. And let’s also take a look at this issue from different angles.

So your landlord sent a warning letter to the tenant for cleanliness. Is it legal to do that? Well, basically yes, it is.

See, a tenant is usually under obligation to adhere to all the terms of the rental lease clauses.

And one of those clauses which landlords can choose to include is how clean to keep the house or apartment that is being rented.

A cleaning clause in the rental agreement is a good thing in fact since it can help avoid any misunderstandings during the tenancy or move-out inspection.

So for all the tenants, the landlord has the right to say how clean you must keep the house or apartment that you are renting.

Can My landlord Tell Me How Properly I Should Clean
via crello: YuraSokolov

What Can Tell Your Landlord That the Property Is Not Properly Clean?

All right, so your landlord has the full right to tell you how clean your rented house should be. But how can he or she define when that border line is crossed and the property turns into a filthy mess?

The lease agreement should usually say exactly what a landlord expects of a tenant in terms of cleanliness.

Typically, a cleanliness clause states that the apartment or a house should be left in the same condition as when a tenant moves in. But what about cleanliness during the rental period?

A cleanliness clause should cover rules about managing the trash, handling biodegradable items, dealing with a pet’s waste, toxic chemicals, mold, and mess or garbage around the property’s exterior.

Yeah, we know that it all may sound like way too much information that is hard to remember from the first time! So below we have prepared a short but very informative list for you. Read it to learn about the major signs that can tell your landlord that the property is dirty.

What Can Tell Your Landlord That the Property Is Not Properly Clean
via crello: sompong_tom

Garbage And Clutter

Your landlord can require you, as a tenant, to clean up the mess, trash, and garbage that is accumulating in the property. This could be anything from a pile of papers, empty boxes, or discarded bottles, and any other junk. These items not only collect dust, but they can be a safety or fire hazard.

Pet Mess

If your landlord allows his or her tenants to have pets in the rental property, it means that you, as a tenant, will be responsible for your furry friend and the mess it can leave. Signs of a dirty apartment would be pet feces or urine that isn’t in a litter box.

Bathroom Walls Mold

The owner of the property that you are renting can insist that tenants clean mold growth from walls and keep shower and bathroom tile and grout clean. However, it is not just bathroom mold that is a sign of a dirty apartment.

Even wet items that are not being stored properly, or a leaking pipe that you forgot to report could lead to mold growth!

In this case, it will make the rental unit smell and become a health hazard! So yes, you should ensure that you clean all that up too.

Bathroom Walls Mold
via crello: zstockphotos

A Rental Property Smells Bad

Any nasty or bad odors that are coming from the property that you are renting can be another sign of improper maintenance. Of course, there are several other reasons why disgusting odors appear.

The stench could be from a buildup of cooking grease, from smoking, it can be a result of mold growth, or the aftermath of the blocked drains.

It can appear because of rotten food, dirty carpets, or cat or dog waste! In any case, a landlord can require a tenant to eliminate the source of the stink and clean the apartment.

Rodents And Pests

If you notice any pests (e.g. cockroaches) in your rented property, or if you have rodents that were not there when you moved in, that might be another sign of the dirty house or apartment that is not cleaned up properly.

In this case, your landlord can get you to pay for pest control and clean the apartment if you are responsible for the rat, mice, or bug infestation.

Or course, it is a landlord who is typically responsible for pest control. As such, it is a good idea to arrange for seasonal pest control as a preventative measure.

Blocked Drains And Problems With Plumbing

This is quite a common issue that many of us face when renting an apartment or a house. In this case, it is more than acceptable for a landlord to require a significant cleanup if a tenant causes blockages in drains or sewers.

If the blockage results in flood damage that affects your neighbors, you could be even demanded to pay for the cost of repairs!

Of course, if you are a tenant, you should keep in mind that tenants usually have the responsibility to report leaking plumbing fixtures. And landlords must fix these.

Toxic Chemicals

Any type of toxic chemical that is incorrectly stored can be considered a mess that a tenant has to clean up.

In addition, tenants are not allowed to leave potentially dangerous chemicals around where other people can reach them easily, especially children.

If the tenant needs to dispose of the materials, they must do so according to local laws.

Like this, now you know what issues can make your landlord send you a cleaning notification and make you clean the entire apartment or a house properly.

So we recommend you simply clean your rented property regularly and thoroughly in order to make sure that there is no dirt, mold, or other potentially hazardous stuff that may lead to any misunderstandings or issues between you and your landlord.

How to Keep Your Rented Property Clean. Tips And Life Hacks?

It is needless to remind you that regularly cleaning the rental unit is the tenant’s major responsibility.

If your landlord notices any clutter, dirt, mess, or debris in the apartment during the regular scheduled inspections, he or she can require you to clean the rental unit immediately.

However, if you are a landlord, you may face another issue: the challenge of keeping rental units clean between tenants!

Fortunately, there are a few tips we can share with you on this subject. Grab several essential steps you should take in order to keep your rental property clean between tenants.

How to Keep Your Rented Property Clean. Tips And Life Hacks
via crello: FellowNeko

Have a Cleanliness Clause

In the rental agreement, you should provide a cleaning checklist where you will indicate what exactly you expect the tenant to clean regularly.

Also, a move-out checklist can include areas you require the tenant to deep clean, for example, the stove and oven.


Attend the Move-Out

As a landlord, it is mandatory for you to always be present when a tenant moves out (unless some urgent and unpredictable circumstances don’t allow you to do this). You can walk through the apartment with the checklist to inspect for damages and check cleanliness before your tenant moves out.

Deep Clean

Even if the tenant kept the house or apartment he or she rented in an ideal and spotless condition, it is still a good idea to clean the place.

Normal wear and tear is acceptable without a tenant risking losing their security deposit.

So, you probably want to carry out minor or major repairs in preparation for the next tenant.

Replace Old Furnishings Or Carpeting

Carpets tend to accumulate a lot of dirt and dust over time, you know that perfectly well.

But in this case, they can be difficult to clean altogether. So after your tenants move out and before the new people move in, you should deep clean your carpets.

However, it may be best to replace them to get rid of hard-to-remove stains and odors.

Inspect And Repair Plumbing

Leaky pipes can lead to mold growth and other hygiene issues in a rental unit. After the tenant leaves, check for signs of water damage, leaking pipes under sinks, or mold in basements, bathrooms, or behind fixtures.

So if you are a landlord, you’d better keep all these life hacks and recommendations in mind.

With their help, it will be much simpler for you to organize your tenant’s move-ins and move-outs.

In addition, having all the papers ready with accurately listed obligations of your tenant will ensure that the property you are landing will remain in a good and decent state.

Blocked Drains And Problems With Plumbing
via crello: sinenkiy

How to Make a Tenant Keep the Property Clean?

Of course, as a landlord, you can’t come and pay your tenant a visit just to check that the property is properly cleaned and maintained! The best way to ensure your tenants clean regularly is to have an agreement about cleanliness.

You could start with a “condition check-in list.” This documents the condition of walls, flooring, furnishings, and fixtures at move-in.

You can also go through the move-in inspection list with the tenant and explain how to care for particular items.

Typically, the lease agreement should specify a weekly trash day for empty garbage bins and preventing rubbish and piles of papers from piling up.

Another way to encourage your tenants to clean the property regularly is to have a clause to inspect the unit regularly.

Of course, you must give reasonable notice in line with the lease and state laws.

During the inspections, you can address any cleanliness issues.

Additionally, be sure to document any lease violations regarding cleanliness.

How to Make a Tenant Keep the Property Clean
via crello: VadimVasenin

More About the Lease Clauses

The easiest way to tell a tenant how clean to keep the property that’s being rented is by including a clause in the rental agreement.

If you don’t know what that clause is and how it looks, here is an example for you:

“CLEANING. The tenant(s) shall keep all areas in and around the property in a clean and habitable condition.

Normal wear and tear of the property is expected. At the end of the rental term, the tenant shall submit the property for further inspection. The tenant agrees to….”

Depending on the rental unit and your requirements, you could include the following positions in the rental agreement:

  • When the tenant must remove trash from the premises
  • How often your tenant must vacuum carpets and rugs
  • How often the tenant must clean bathroom and kitchen areas
  • If the tenant must pay for a cleaning service if you deem the rental unit dirty
  • What the responsibilities of your tenant at move out are

It’s vital to note that any requirements in the lease must be in line with local landlord-tenant law!

More About the Lease Clauses
via crello: dasha11

What Are the Rights Of a Tenant?

If you are going to rent an apartment or a house, you should be aware of the rights that you are going to have as a tenant.

It will allow you to solve any issues and complications with your landlord, should they appear, easily and on a legal basis.

Privacy Policy

A property owner has to advise a tenant at least 48 hours (which is equal to two days) before entering the tenant’s home if they want to conduct their inspections.

While the proprietor owns the property, borders still have the right to protect their privacy. In case their rights get violated, borders may report or sue the owner for doing such acts.

Copy Of the Lease

Problems may occur every once in a while; that is why it is important for both parties to have a copy of the lease contract so they will know how to solve an issue properly.

When a problem occurs, a tenant can easily see the information written in the lease contract to assess the situation at hand. More importantly, when a dispute happens, a legal expert can easily notice the problem and quickly solve the case.

So, now you know everything that you might need to be aware of in terms of clean rented property – both if you are a landlord or a tenant.

With all this in mind, you should have no issues or complications when renting or landing an apartment.

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐Can my landlord keep my security deposit for repairs?

Yes, he can. This is one of the reasons (if not the only reason) why property owners collect a deposit before allowing a tenant to rent their real estate property.

⭐Can you be evicted for having a dirty apartment?

Yes, you can. If a tenant cannot follow the landlord’s laws and regulations, the latter has the legal right to evict the former.

⭐What are the tenant’s responsibilities to keep the rental clean?

It depends on the lease agreement. Some owners shoulder some of the cleaning responsibilities, while others pass the responsibility to the renters.

Written by
Olivia shares all she knows about the hotels, houses, and home cleaning with Beezzly readers. And she knows a lot! 15 years of work experience as a Manager in a former Four Season Service gave Olivia an exceptional base of professional knowledge and practical experience.
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Can a landlord tell you how clean to keep your house?Can a landlord tell you how clean to keep your house?