Landlording & Rental Properties

6 Tips for Cleaning Your Rental Property Between Tenants

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties, Personal Finance, Real Estate News & Commentary
30 Articles Written

Whether it’s been weeks, months, or years, it’s time for your current tenant to move out—and another to move in. Of course, they can’t just hand each other the keys and carry on with their lives. You have to make sure the place remains in good condition, even after housing a tenant for an extended period.

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Mainly, that responsibility will entail ensuring your rental is spic and span for the next person who will call your property “home.” So, before you hand over the keys, grab your cleaning supplies and go to work. Here’s how to scour your property between tenants.

Related: How to Get Your Security Deposit Back: A Checklist for Renters

Have the Tenants Start the Process

When tenants move out, they have a responsibility to present the property as they found it. If you scoured the place before they moved in, then they should clean up, at the very least.

You can make a checklist for your tenants (1) to ensure they do their part in the process. This option will make the final walkthrough a breeze. If they follow the list, then the place should be up to your specifications, and they’ll get their deposit back. Better yet, your cleaning won’t have to be as extreme if the tenant has done their part.

Perform Necessary Maintenance

Not every tenant will follow the checklist you provide. Even if they do, though, they might have caused damage to the property that you have to fix. So, inspect your space for holes in the wall, leaks, faulty locks or doorknobs, and so on. You’ll have to repair all of that before a new tenant arrives.

To that end, check out the property’s appliances, too. If you have trouble maintaining the cleanliness of your property’s appliances, you might just want to replace them. The same goes for furnished apartments—you can only sanitize and clean a mattress so many times before you have to buy a new one for a new tenant.

Erase Scuff Marks

Even a tenant’s rigorous cleaning regimen can’t get rid of such blemishes as scuff marks. So, stock up on Magic Erasers—or make your own (2) —and get rid of all the imperfections around the house. Not only can you fix walls without paint, but you can restore bathrooms to an even brighter shine.

On that note, take advantage of your role as a landlord, too. You should be able to purchase stronger, commercial-grade cleaning supplies because of your profession. These solutions will make it easier to get the place clean and ready for your next tenant.

Attack Lingering Mold

An imperfect bathroom cleaning regimen may have left mold behind on the walls or in the shower. Mold can be toxic, so you need to slip on a mask so that you don’t inhale any dangerous spores. Then, spray the area down with a mixture that’s one part bleach, eight parts water (3) and keep a fan running throughout the process to clear the air.

Once the mold’s removed, implore your new tenants to squeegee the shower after each use to remove excess water. You might install or enhance the ventilator fan you have in the bathroom to keep air flowing. Stagnation and moisture cause mold, and you don’t want to have to deal with it every time tenants move in and out.


Examine the Outside, Too

Whether you’re renting a single family home with a backyard or a condo with a balcony, you want to scour those outdoor areas, as well. Of course, this step doesn’t just mean that you mow the lawn and move on. You should perform a full clean-up of the property’s exterior.

Empty the gutters of any build-up and power-wash the walkways and driveway. If the property’s covered in siding, be sure to give that a rinse, as well. It’ll be worth all of the extra steps to spruce up your property’s exterior—curb appeal can help seal the deal for your potential new tenants.

Related: 8 Tips for Cleaning Your Rental Kitchen Between Tenants

Clean the Carpets and Refresh the Paint

Finally, as a courtesy to your new tenants, you should finish your deep clean with the walls and floors. Rent a carpet cleaning machine—or hire a professional to helm the process. Vacuuming alone won’t release deep-set dirt and germs from the flooring, so you’ll need to add this step to your cleaning regimen.

The same goes for paint—depending on where you live, it might be required of you as a landlord to re-paint with the departure of every tenant. Either way, refreshing the walls is a nice touch for those who move in, as it makes the place feel even fresher and cleaner.

Maintain a High Standard

Some landlords might do a superficial cleaning so that they can usher clients in and out with haste. However, this method will do you no good. Without deep cleaning, dirt and grime build up over time, and you can’t expect your tenants to take care of it if you don’t.

So, set a high cleanliness standard when tenants move in, and keep it that high for every further renter. That way, your property will stay in mint condition, and you can continue renting it out for years to come.



If you’re a landlord, is there anything else you’d add to the list above?

Share in the comment section below.

Anum Yoon is the founder and editor of the millennial money blog, Current on Currency.

    Marvin Tu Homeowner from EASTVALE, California
    Replied 27 days ago
    Wonderful Tip!
    Christopher Smith Investor from brentwood, california
    Replied 26 days ago
    Make it simple and require in the lease that the tenant must hire a professional carpet cleaner to wrap up its final turnover. No DIY jobs when renting quality properties.
    Cindy Larsen Rental Property Investor from Lakewood, WA
    Replied 26 days ago
    I have a very detailed cleaning checklist that I have put into the move in move out checklist on my leases. It specifies exactly what things need to be cleaned and how to clean them. Anything that new tenants find on the cleaning checklist that we missed, we promptly take care of it. The lease says that they need to clean everything in the cleaning checklist or we clean it at $25 per hour taken from their deposit. I have been doing this for about a year and a half and the result is much less turnover time much less turnover expense and tenets are happy because they get most of their deposit back. I do a move out walk-through with them a week before they move out using a damp white washcloth on areas like the top of the door frames in the side drawers and cupboards etc. The only thing I don’t let them clean is carpets because they never do a good job. I find that most tenants are willing to clean but having a definition of what clean means that is agreed on ahead of time, and the motivation of $25 per hour for someone else to do it, gets good results.
    Ken Goodman Investor from Los Angeles, California
    Replied 25 days ago
    Hi Cindy, We've been looking for a checklist like you describe. Can you share yours? Thanks, Ken
    Jessica A. Flipper from Kalamazoo, Michigan
    Replied 26 days ago
    Just an FYI. Bleach only kills mold on non-porous substrates, so perfect for shower walls. On anything that’s porous, use a mixture of water, white vinegar, and borax cleaner. Borax actually leaves behind a residue that inhibits mold growth. I did this on all the concert walls in a basement that had bad mold. Once it dried, we painted, and had zero mold issues after!
    Luke Saglimbeni Rental Property Investor from East Longmeadow, MA
    Replied 25 days ago
    would you consider outsourcing cleaning?
    John Picciano
    Replied 23 days ago
    Hi Cindy, I just purchased my first rental property and being that I’m out of stare I’m looking at ways to inspect the unit to make sure the cleaning is complete. I think a having a checklist is a great idea. I’ve also heard of some management companies that require cleaning crews to submit photos of the completed work which I also think is a smart idea. Would you be able to share a copy of the checklist that you use?