5 Things Tenants (Almost) Never Clean

One of the most frustrating things about managing properties is the move-out inspection. Learn about the 5 things you should always check and your options if the cleaning does not meet your approval.
tenant cleaning

Even though I’ve been at this rental business for 15 years, I still dread the move out inspection. Why? Because the turnaround time between tenants is so short and if the property isn’t clean, there is an added pressure.

Let me run you though a scenario. A tenant gives me notice to move. Right away I remind them about the Cleaning Checklist I gave them with their rental agreement. Now most tenants do not know where they put their tenancy agreement so I make another copy of the checklist and leave it in their mailbox. Now they have the list handy and know what to start cleaning. I also ask them if they plan to hire a professional cleaner and if they need any recommendations of good cleaners.

On the day of the move out inspection, I try to show up early so I can do a quick look around before the tenants arrive. But too often the tenants are still cleaning when I show up. This is a red flag. It tells me that they’ve been pushed for time and that I am probably going to find some things that aren’t clean or clean enough.

Now this is the part where it can go wrong. When the tenants are following me around as I do my walk through, I am distracted. They are talking to me, I’m trying to listen and converse. Sometimes there are things I forget to inspect. I’m not perfect. It so happens that after they leave I suddenly notice the marks on the wall, or the stove elements are dirty underneath the new foil inserts! So here are the things I now make sure to check. Everything else I can deal with, but these 5 things are just too icky to want to deal with.

Behind the fridge and stove. Pull out the fridge and stove to find the really gross things like pet hair, dust balls, food bits and usually a bunch of pens.

Inside of drawers and cupboards. The cabinets under the bathroom and kitchen sinks are the absolute grossest, and drawers are full of hair or crumbs.

Baseboards. Tenants rarely clean things like baseboards so there will often be a layer of grime on the top of the baseboard.

Light switches and outlets. Especially around the kitchen area, light switch covers get dirty. Tenants also don’t remember to clean the tops of all the switches and outlets where there is usually a layer of dusty gunk on top.

The drawer under the stove. If I had a dollar for every time I found a pan or baking sheet in the stove drawer, I’d be rich. How is it that people forget to look in this drawer when moving? It also ends up being a collection drawer for crumbs, burnt bits and things that fall through when the over door is opened.

So let’s say I’ve found some things during my move out inspection that had not been cleaned. I have a few choices here:

I can clean it myself. If it’s minor, I’ll begrudgingly do it myself. I usually have some cleaning supplies in my car when attending to a move out inspection, just in case.

I can give the previous tenants another chance to complete the cleaning in full so they get their full damage deposit back. I make sure to set a time when I’ll return to check again. Technically, they are supposed to have done the cleaning by 1pm on the last day of the tenancy; however, it’s simply better for me to give them a few extra hours if they need it.




I can ask the next tenants if they are interested in cleaning for a set amount of money (not by the hour). I find that the new tenants usually agree to this.

I can hire a professional cleaner. I let the new tenants know that I’ll find a cleaner right away to make sure everything is made right. They will appreciate it and going the extra mile will help me earn their respect.



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