How can you force the tenants at your rental property to be clean? Nobody likes the idea of dirty renters, but what can you do about it?
Everyone has a different standard for what clean is, so let’s start by saying there’s messy renters and then there’s unsafe-level-dirty renters.
For your average messy renter, there’s not a lot you can do. Some landlords want to include a provision in the lease that demands the tenant to clean the home each week. The problem with that idea is that it’s not enforceable. And it’s generally a bad idea to include unenforceable things in a lease agreement.
The only way to know you have a messy renter is if you perform regular inspections, which I do recommend. But the purpose of the inspection isn’t to check if they keep the kitchen clean, it’s mostly to find unreported maintenance issues and check on possible lease violations.
Unfortunately keeping a dirty home is not a lease violation, unless it escalates to an unsafe level. So what’s the difference between the messy renter and an unsafe-level-dirty renter?
The dirtiness has reached an unsafe level and will qualify as a lease violation when the mess has caused intrusion of rodents or cockroaches. Mildew, damage to flooring, walls and fixtures is also an unsafe level of dirtiness. A pet that’s not cared for leaving uncleaned feces and urine is also a problem. And let’s not leave out the hoarder that creates an unsafe environment by blocking doors, windows and creates a fire hazard.
In the situation where the tenant has reached an unsafe level, you should issue a notice of lease violation. This is also known as a notice to cure. Basically, you are giving the renter written notice that they are violating the lease agreement by creating an unsafe environment. You are required to give them 3 business days to fix the problem. If they do not fix the problem, you now have the right to perform a court eviction, known as an unlawful detainer.
Court evictions are expensive, so I only recommend you go through with it in extreme situations. The next best thing to do is wait until the lease term expires and give the tenant a notice to vacate. The tenant will have to move out and you will have some serious cleaning to do.