Landlord Blog

Education and news for smart DIY landlords!

How Do You Handle Dirty Tenants?

At some point in your landlording journey, you will come across tenants who often leave the rental in a mess. These “dirty” tenants don’t bother cleaning, and because of that, your place becomes a potential home for bugs and rodents. Not to mention, the hidden damage that comes with pest infestation.

Here are some signs that you’ve let in dirt tenants:

  • Mold has grown on bathroom wall surfaces
  • Garbage hasn’t been disposed of for more than a week
  • Grease on cooking appliances
  • Smell of rotten food somewhere
  • Unwashed dishes

If you experience one of these signs as you enter the rental for a regular inspection, what do you do? Surely, you need to deal with the situation right away. Here are five tips:

Ways to Deal with Dirty Tenants

1. Document the mess.

Take pictures of the dirty areas and also take down notes. Be objective in your documentation. Specify the date and time. You can show these pieces of evidence to the tenant and ask him to provide an explanation. Pictures and notes will also be useful if a tenant refuses to clean up or leaves but wants to keep the entire security deposit.

2. Send a polite letter.

In the letter, let the tenant know that he isn’t living up to his tenant obligations as stated in the lease agreement. Write down what you’ve seen -- unwashed dishes, spoiled food, etc. Also, state the consequence if the tenant fails to comply. End the letter by saying that the tenant is free to contact you if he has concerns.

3. Have a solid lease that requires cleaning.

Speaking of the lease agreement, it’s important that you don’t miss the aspect of cleaning. The problem is that too many landlords fail to indicate a cleaning requirement. This is especially true among do-it-yourself landlords. In the least, you must describe the specific cleaning practices you want. Remember that a rock-solid lease goes a long way in keeping your rental clean and damage-free.

4. Show tenants how they should do it.

There are tenants who simply don’t know how to clean. Most of the time, these tenants are college students or post-graduate students who never experienced living on their own. Ignorance can be taught. Show them how to clean! Demonstrate how to do it using the cleaning tools in the rental. Help them understand the benefits of cleanliness -- increased safety, lower stress, zero pests, and a lower risk of getting sick.

Related: Landlord Tips for Managing First-Time Renters and Students

5. Hire cleaning services.

Some landlords avail specialty cleaning services (from regular cleaning to deep cleaning). If you decide to hire such service, be sure to include a clause in the lease agreement. Give your tenant notice before the professionals arrive.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, regular inspections, communication, and a solid lease in place are keys to dealing with dirty tenants. Different tenants have different levels of cleanliness. Regardless, don’t allow tenants to cause damage because of their ignorance. Stay polite and calm when educating them about cleanliness. They might even thank you for helping them realize.

If you’re ready, make Landlord Prep your go-to resource for landlording education. Here, we offer a complete DIY landlording course to get you on the right track. Join our academy today. If you want, you can check out Flavia’s real estate investing webinar first!