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Tips for Cleaning Your Rental Before Renting

One of the first things most prospective tenants notice is how clean your rental home is, so make the best first impression you can. A clean rental home implies good maintenance and reliability on the part of the landlord and the tenants who’ve come before, setting a precedent to respect the property. Here are some tips on how to be sure you send the right message to your perspective tenants.

Turn the process into a checklist

The more you have to think about what you need to do, the less mental energy you have to focus on the actual cleaning. Note down every room in the rental, and every item in each room that needs some attention. As you build up a better list, you can just focus on getting everything on the list cleaned instead of having to remember what you need to do and what you’ve already done.

Prioritize the most visible things first

You need to clean everything, but you want to be doubly sure that the most visible things are well-cleaned. If there’s a big smudge on the kitchen counter or the wall just inside the front door has dirt on it, you’re going to have real trouble getting potential clients to look past it to the rest of the apartment.

Check and clean weird and forgotten places

You still need to make sure you clean everything. When you’re going through rooms, look for all the forgotten corners and not immediately visible surfaces. Add them to your cleaning checklist and make sure they’re as clean as you can get them. You don’t want a tenant discovering a mess left uncleaned sometime after they’ve moved and started settling in.

Replace old items that are hard to clean

You may have to take more time and hassle to replace something than to clean it, but in some cases that pays off long-term. If you’re having trouble cleaning something like an old appliance or piece of furniture, check how well it’s working and how much wear and tear it’s taken. If it’s nearing the end of its lifespan or showing signs of damage, you may want to have it repaired or replaced rather than just cleaned.

Hire a professional

If you have more than one property, having professional help is probably already necessary, but it’s not just useful in that situation. Get referrals and references to make sure that you’ve hired a reputable service, but once you have someone good helping you, they can make the process go much more smoothly. It’ll save you the time of cleaning yourself, and since they’re professionals, can do a better and more thorough job than you could yourself.

Set expectations with tenants

If your tenant does a good job cleaning when they move out, you’ll have a lot less work to do afterwards. When they move in, talk about keeping things clean as a part of the initial walk through. When they’re moving out, give them a version of your cleaning checklist so they have a good idea of what they need to do before leaving.

Here are some more specific tips you can use if you’re doing the heavy lifting yourself

  • Floors: You can easily rent a carpet cleaner from home improvement stores, so take advantage of that. If tiles are cracked or missing, replace them and repair obvious hard wood damage. All uncarpeted floors should be thoroughly cleaned and swept.
  • Walls and ceilings: If it’s been a while since the walls have been painted, now is the time. Be sure to repair any nail holes or gashes left by previous tenants. Address any water stains in the ceiling by making repairs if necessary and painting over. Check that all ceiling bulbs are working and dust all the light fixtures .
  • Windows: Clean all windows inside and out and make sure that the locks and screens all work properly. If your property comes with window treatments, they should be clean and in good working order.
  • Vents: Check the vents in each room to make sure they are working properly. Also, all intake and room vents should be free of dust.
  • Appliances: Do a thorough scrub of all kitchen appliances, including the oven and range, refrigerator and dishwasher if there is one. Wipe down the exteriors of the washer/dryer if they are present.
  • Cupboards and closets: Make sure that all storage space is free of the previous tenant’s belongings and is wiped down, swept or vacuumed.
  • Tub and shower: Scrub and reapply grout, if necessary. Get the bathtub and shower as clean as possible, install a new shower curtain and consider replacing or resurfacing if needed. Toilets and sinks should also be thoroughly cleaned.
  • Outside: Even if yard maintenance will be the responsibility of your new tenant, start them off with a mowed lawn, clean porches and a carport/garage free of any extraneous items left by you or earlier tenants.

Be sure that your prospective tenant’s first experience with your rental property is one that leads to them to say, “I’ll take it!” Having a clean rental home is a major part of curbside appeal and lets your tenants know that you’re reliable and care about your house, and will make it more likely that they’ll do the same after moving in.  

Categories: Featured, Landlords

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About the Author

Rebecca Green is a content editor and writer for RentPath. She enjoys interior design, dogs and can tell you where to find the best pizza in Brooklyn. You can see some of her other published work on Apartment Guide and rent.com