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

Do I have to Keep my House Clean?

As a tenant, you have a right to live in a clean and well-maintained rental unit. You also have a responsibility to keep your rental unit clean and free of debris. However, the property owner or your landlord cannot tell you how clean to keep your house. They can, however, set expectations in the lease agreement about the condition of the rental unit and common areas.

For example, the lease agreement may state that the rental unit must be kept clean and free of trash at all times. If there are specific cleaning requirements, such as mopping the floors or cleaning the stove top, these should be listed in the lease agreement too. If your landlord says the house is dirty, they may send you a written notice asking you to clean up.

The notice should state what needs to be cleaned and give you a reasonable amount of time to do so. If you do not properly clean up the rental unit, your landlord may have the right to terminate your lease agreement.

What is considered dirty or a messy rental apartment?

A messy or dirty rental unit is typically one that is cluttered with personal belongings, has dirty floors, bathroom walls or surfaces, or contains garbage. If your rental unit is messy or dirty, your landlord may send you a notice asking you to clean up. Make sure to check your rental agreement to see if the lease agreements or landlord mentioned anything about house cleaning tasks.

One of the issues your landlord will have if your house is not clean, is it could be a health hazard or a fire hazard.

If there is too much dust and/or mold growth, this could have implications on your health. If there is too much clutter in the way of exits, then this could be an issue if there was a fire. In this case, it is best for both the landlord and yourself to have a house with a clean and habitable condition.

A great way of keeping your house clean is by adding a drop zone. This provides a place for your family to store everyday items in a tidy manner, and keep all your items in their place.

Your Rights as a Tenant

As long as your mess is not extremely noticeable, and you’re not breaching your lease contract with your landlord, you should be fine. To avoid any trouble, you should give your house a quick clean before your landlord has arranged to inspect your home.

If your landlord has agreed to you having a pet in your home, make sure to clean up after it. If your landlord sees your pet is making the property more dirty, they may ask you to give your pet away.

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Signs that your landlord is harassing you

If your landlord is constantly asking you to clean up your rental unit, this may be considered harassment. If your landlord is making unreasonable demands, such as asking you to clean the entire house every day, this may also be considered harassment. If you feel that your landlord is harassing you, you may want to speak to an attorney.

7 Things Tenants Forget to Clean when Moving Out

A general rule of thumb is to leave the property clean in the same condition your found it. A lot of tenants forget to clean important areas of their property before they move out. This can result in your landlord rightfully claiming some of your deposit money to clean the areas you’ve left dirty.

A certain way of getting your full security deposit back when moving out is hiring a professional cleaner to clean your home. If you show your landlord the cleaning service receipt, they cannot complain about the state of the property, as professional cleaning services will to a fantastic job an ensure the house is in a habitable condition.

However, remember when hiring a house cleaner, you should give them a tip if they do a great job. For one-time jobs like this, it is recommended to tip your house cleaner 15% of the agreed price.

If you want to receive your full deposit, make sure to clean these 5 areas of your home before you move out.


Typically, people seem to forget to clean their baseboards throughout their entire time of living in a house. This means when they leave there’s a thick layer of dust on the baseboards. You can use some Lysol wipes to collect dust and give these a wipe down.

2. Electrical Outlets & Light Switches

These lights switches almost seem to have little hand prints and fingerprints, especially in the kitchen! They also have a similar problem like the baseboards do with a little layer of dirt. Make sure to give your electrical outlets and light switches a wipe before you move out. Clean these electricals to make your rental property clean and feel clean.

3. Blinds

If you have a home with blinds, I’m pretty sure you’ve never wiped or dusted them down since you’ve moved in. You’re going to want to check this because they can be really hard to clean. You can use a feather duster to clean the dust off, but they will still have dirt on them.

Ensure your blinds are also wiped down one by one. This is a nightmare to clean, but you can always take it off and put it in the shower and clean it in your shower. This can be a faster method. Your blinds need to be addressed because they make a house feel clean.

4. Cupboards & Drawers

Make sure to wipe all the kitchen cupboards down on the outside, and also remember to clean the inside of the cupboards and drawers. This is usually full of crumbs, so you want to make sure that all your drawers have been wiped out. When cleaning the outside of the cupboards, do not miss the handles as the handles are extra dirty!

5. Refrigerator & Stove

This is one that a lot of people are guilty of forgetting. Behind the stove, underneath the stove, and behind the fridge. Moving large appliances can be difficult in some houses if they’re not on wheels.

This is just one of the areas of a dirty apartment that nobody cleans regularly, but it collects a lot of dirt. Make sure that you move back these appliances and clean underneath them before you move out, as I guarantee your landlord will look in these areas.

6. Sinks

Some people think that because a sink always has water and washing liquids running through it, that they don’t need cleaned. This is definitely not the case. Especially if you use hair dye and it has stained your sink.

If this has happened to your sink, we know exactly how to clean it. For sinks made of porcelain, you can use Bar Keepers Friend Stain remover which specializes in removing stains.

If your sink is made of acrylic instead, you should use acetone nail polish remover, or if you have an enamel sink, it’s best to scrub the stain using a paste mix of dish soap and baking soda.

7. Polyester Couch

Your landlord will check to make sure your polyester couch has been thoroughly cleaned before you move out. Your polyester couch will have a cleaning code on a label, which will give you an indication on the method to use to clean it.

  • W – Water-Based Cleaning Solutions: Use a clean cloth and softly dab the uncleaned areas. Repeat this method until the stains from your polyester couch are completely removed.
  • S – Solvent-Based Cleaning Solutions: Apply a tiny amount of cleaner to a neat cloth and gently tap the areas with stains.  Make sure to avoid rubbing or scrubbing to avoid scratching and damaging the furniture.
  • SW – Both Water and Solvent-Based Cleaners: You can use both of the solutions mentioned above.
  • X – Vacuum or Brush Only; Professional Cleaning Is Recommended: You will likely need to use professional dry-cleaning services to remove stains.

Reasons why your Rental Property is Dusty

When you begin to clean your rental apartment, you might be wondering why there’s so much dust! If you don’t regularly clean your home, it will get seriously dusty. The places that gather dust the most are your carpets, rugs, and curtains. You must also make sure to clean the filter in your HVAC units, as dirty filters can spread a lot of dust around your home.

What if my Tenant doesn’t clean the Rental Property?

If you have a tenant that is not keeping the rental unit clean, you may want to send them a written notice. The notice should state what needs to be cleaned and give the tenant a reasonable amount of time to do so.

If you have a section in the lease agreement which states the rental property must be kept clean, refer to this when speaking to your tenant. You could consider giving your tenant a cleaning checklist so they know exactly what you would like to be kept clean. You can then refer to this cleaning checklist during the next apartment inspection.

If the tenant does not clean up the rental unit, you may have the right to terminate their lease agreement. You can then follow the eviction process, but make sure to give them proper notice. If the tenant hasn’t left the apartment clean when they move out, read this post to find out the actions you can take as a landlord. 

So Can My Landlord Tell Me to Keep my House Clean?

Your landlord cannot tell you to keep your house extremely clean. As long as you’re not overly messy, and look like you are regularly cleaning and maintaining the house, your landlord will not cause you any trouble.

If you feel your landlord is forcing you to clean when you feel the property is already clean enough, it might be best to, seek mediation, or speak to an attorney.

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