Having dirty tenants can be a landlord or property managers worst nightmare, they are not only expensive they also bring down the value of the rental property by giving a bad perception. Nobody wants to live next to a smelly dirty home or apartment.
Living conditions that are dirty can cause damage to the property, provide insect and rodent inducing conditions, reduce property value of your house and potentially the neighborhood. One of the simplest ways to determine if a tenant is going to be a slob is by taking a peak inside the prospective tenant’s car. If the prospect is generally unkempt themselves this also may be a bad sign.
If while doing a routine inspection, or if an issue was brought to your attention by a concerned (or disgusted) neighbor, you find that you have a dirty tenant you may have your work cut out for you. It’s imperative that action is taken right away. If your lease was properly written it should have some sort of clause in it that requires the tenant to keep the property in a clean condition. If so, give the tenant a time-line (2 weeks or so) to get the place cleaned up. If the property is not cleaned up within that time frame then it is best to get them out of your property. If the tenants didn’t clean it up within the time-line established it chances are that they will leave it a mess when they move out. If the property is a mess at the termination of the lease then it is your prerogative to hire a cleaning company and deduct the cost from their deposit.
In general, Landlords cannot dictate how often and how thorough a tenant cleans and keeps the property. BUT, if the tenant is causing damage to the property, themselves or violating health and fire codes it is legal and time to step in. Some things that could signal and issue would include; Mold growing anywhere, animal or other feces not contained in proper receptacles (aka toilet or litter box), piles of garbage or junk, presence of rodents or insects such as cockroaches, and bad smells from said garbage or rotting food.
Prevention is Key
Step 1-Tenant Screening
Tenant screening will help weed out those who may be lazy, while it is hard to screen specifically for laziness it could become evident. Running an eviction report could produce some much needed information about the prospective tenants.
Step 2- The Lease
Having a rock solid and tough lease will allow you to legally force tenants to be clean and that will give you the right to get them out if they are not. You can even have a specific clause in there that states that you may hire a cleaning service if the property was not being properly cleaned and the issue was not remedied.
Step 3- Education
As silly as this may seem teaching your tenants how to clean is sometimes needed. Now I’m not suggesting a full on tutorial I’m just saying a list and schedule of what needs to be cleaned and what cleaning products work best could be useful. This is particularly true if you have a young tenant, maybe on there own for the first time.
Step 4- Inspections
Doing regular inspections can make a really big difference in the final outcome. Damage coming from an uncleanly home is cumulative so if you catch the issue before things are damaged beyond repair it can save a lot of money.