For Real Estate advice on buying or selling any type of property, anywhere in the World!... Primarily in the Albuquerque, NM area. 1st Time Buyer, Seller financing, Short Sales, Foreclosures, Vacation 2nd Home, 1031 Exchange, Investing, ect...
Monday, February 28, 2011
Get tenants to clean up before clearing out
Enforce the move-out rules
Q: What are the tenant's responsibilities for cleaning after moving out? Is it acceptable for them to leave trash and unwanted household goods behind? As a landlord, what legal rights do I have to enforce the proper cleaning of my property?
A: This is a very important question and a concern of all landlords. This is also one area where, with some advance notice and preparation, you can have a positive impact on your experience as a landlord.
No, it is not acceptable for your tenant to leave the rental unit full of trash and unwanted household items, and that is the simple answer to your question. But it is my opinion and experience that you can take steps to make this a more likely scenario than you might think.
I know there are some unethical landlords who actually want their tenants to leave the rental unit in less-than-perfect condition. They don't mind because they can then charge the tenant excessive fees for basic cleaning and simple repairs.
Some sneaky landlords will even upgrade the rental unit and improperly charge the tenant for work. I have heard of landlords who brag that they "never have returned a security deposit." This is wrong, and luckily those landlords are very few in number, but they make a bad name for all landlords.
So now that I have disparaged those few bad landlords, let me compliment you again for wanting to know how you can actually make minimal or even no deductions from the tenant's security deposit.
It starts at the time the tenant first visits your rental property as a prospect, and is reinforced at the time of move-in, by explaining your policies and procedures for handling the disposition of the security deposit. You also need to let them know your expectations about cleaning and repairs upon move-out.
It is the law of most states that your tenants need to return the rental unit in the same or better condition than when they moved in, except for normal wear and tear. Also, the cleanliness of the rental unit is not usually subject to wear-and-tear allowances so that means that if the tenant brought in any dirt during the tenancy then they must remove it before they vacate.
I think it is also very important to let your tenants know you are in the business of providing them with a clean and well-maintained rental unit at the time they move in. Of course, it is their responsibility, not yours, to keep the rental unit clean during the tenancy. But you retain responsibility for proper maintenance and repairs.
You should encourage them to contact you via phone or e-mail immediately, as you want to be made aware if there are any problems or concerns while they live there. Tell them that you will be glad to promptly investigate any items needing repair or replacement. You may be able to fix a problem when it is small and less expensive to address.
But you are also communicating to your new tenant that you want the rental unit to be in great condition during their tenancy and upon move-out. This lets your tenant know that you care about the condition of your property and could even be beneficial to discourage prospective tenants who know they aren't likely to keep the unit in good order.