Can My Landlord Make Me Pay for Cleaning

Generally, a landlord cannot compel a tenant to pay for the cleaning. This is especially true when the tenant leaves the rental unit in a reasonably clean state. However, a landlord can deduct cleaning costs from the security deposit if the tenant leaves the property excessively dirty or damaged. In some cases, a landlord may also charge a cleaning fee if it is specified in the lease agreement. Before moving out, it’s a good idea for tenants to clean the property thoroughly to avoid any potential disputes or deductions from their security deposit. It’s also a good idea to communicate with the landlord about any cleaning concerns or expectations to ensure a smooth checkout process.

Duty to Clean Rental Property

In general, a landlord cannot make a tenant pay for cleaning. Landlords are typically responsible for cleaning and maintaining their rental properties, and tenants are responsible for keeping their units clean and tidy. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

As a tenant, the following information is important regarding cleaning your rental property:

  • Initial and move-out cleaning: Landlords are usually responsible for cleaning the property before a new tenant moves in and after a tenant moves out. However, some landlords may require tenants to clean the property themselves or pay a cleaning fee.
  • Routine cleaning: Tenants are generally responsible for routine cleaning of their units, such as sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, and dusting. Landlords are not typically required to provide cleaning services.
  • Cleaning after damage: If a tenant damages the property, the landlord may charge the tenant for the cost of cleaning or repairs.
  • Unsafe or unhealthy conditions: If a rental property is in an unsafe or unhealthy condition, the landlord may be required to clean the property or make repairs. In some cases, the tenant may be able to withhold rent until the landlord makes the necessary repairs.
  • Cleaning fees: Some landlords charge a cleaning fee when a tenant moves out. This fee is usually used to cover the cost of cleaning the property after the tenant moves out.

If you are a tenant and your landlord is trying to make you pay for cleaning, you should:

  1. Check your lease agreement to see who is responsible for cleaning.
  2. Contact your local housing authority to learn about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.
  3. If you believe that your landlord is violating your rights, you may want to file a complaint with the housing authority or take legal action.
Common Cleaning Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants
Initial and move-out cleaningRoutine cleaning
Cleaning after damage caused by the landlord or a third partyCleaning after damage caused by the tenant or their guests
Cleaning common areasCleaning inside the unit
Cleaning appliances and fixturesTaking out the trash
Making repairsReporting maintenance issues to the landlord

Common Areas and Tenant Responsibilities

Many leases require tenants to keep their rental units clean, but there is some variation in what exactly is required. As a rule of thumb, tenants are responsible for cleaning the interior of their unit, including all appliances, fixtures, and surfaces. Landlords are responsible for cleaning common areas, although they may also require tenants to help keep these areas clean.

Here is a more detailed breakdown of common areas and tenant responsibilities:

Tenant Responsibilities

  • Keep the interior of their unit clean.
  • Clean all appliances, fixtures, and surfaces.
  • Take out the trash and recycling.
  • Sweep, mop, and vacuum floors.
  • Clean windows and mirrors.
  • Dust furniture and fixtures.
  • Clean bathrooms and kitchens.

Landlord Responsibilities

  • Clean common areas.
  • Repair and maintain common areas.
  • Provide trash and recycling containers.
  • Remove snow and ice from common areas.
  • Control pests in common areas.
  • Maintain landscaping in common areas.

In addition to the tasks listed above, tenants may also be responsible for cleaning certain common areas if they are specifically designated as tenant-maintained areas in the lease. For example, a tenant may be responsible for cleaning a patio or balcony if it is attached to their unit.

If you are unsure about who is responsible for cleaning a particular area, you should consult your lease agreement. If your lease does not specify, you can always contact your landlord or property manager for clarification.

Responsibilities for Different Types of Cleaning

Type of CleaningTenant ResponsibilityLandlord Responsibility
Interior of the UnitYesNo
Common AreasNoYes
Tenant-Maintained AreasYesNo
Appliances, Fixtures, and SurfacesYesNo
Floors, Windows, and MirrorsYesNo
Bathrooms and KitchensYesNo
Trash and RecyclingYesNo
Snow and Ice RemovalNoYes
Pest ControlNoYes

By following these guidelines, tenants and landlords can work together to keep rental properties clean and well-maintained.

End-of-Lease Cleaning

When you move out of a rental property, your landlord may require you to clean the unit before you leave. This is known as “end-of-lease cleaning.” The purpose of end-of-lease cleaning is to return the property to its original condition, minus normal wear and tear.

The scope of end-of-lease cleaning can vary depending on the landlord and the property. However, it typically includes the following tasks:

  • Cleaning the floors
  • Dusting the walls and fixtures
  • Cleaning the windows and mirrors
  • Cleaning the kitchen appliances
  • Cleaning the bathroom fixtures
  • Taking out the trash

If you do not clean the unit properly, your landlord may charge you a cleaning fee. The amount of the cleaning fee will vary depending on the landlord and the extent of the cleaning that is required.

Damage Deposits

When you move into a rental property, you will typically be required to pay a damage deposit. This deposit is held by the landlord to cover the cost of any damage to the property that occurs during your tenancy. The damage deposit is typically equal to one month’s rent.

If you damage the property during your tenancy, your landlord may use the damage deposit to pay for the repairs. The amount of the deduction from the damage deposit will depend on the extent of the damage.

If you do not damage the property during your tenancy, you will receive the full amount of your damage deposit back when you move out.

Summary of End-of-Lease Cleaning and Damage Deposits
End-of-Lease CleaningThe cleaning that is required to be done when you move out of a rental property.
Damage DepositA deposit that is paid to the landlord to cover the cost of any damage to the property that occurs during your tenancy.

Legal Obligations

Generally, a landlord is responsible for the cleanliness and maintenance of a rental property. This includes common areas and public spaces, as well as individual units. Landlords are legally obligated to:

  • Keep the property clean and sanitary, including carpets, floors, walls, and windows.
  • Provide adequate garbage and recycling receptacles, and ensure they are emptied regularly.
  • Take reasonable measures to prevent pests and vermin.
  • Ensure the property is safe and habitable.

Landlord-Tenant Laws

Most jurisdictions have landlord-tenant laws that govern the relationship between landlords and tenants. These laws typically address issues such as rent, security deposits, maintenance, and cleaning responsibilities.

In most cases, landlords cannot require a tenant to clean the property or charge a cleaning fee as part of the security deposit. However, there are some exceptions:

  • Express Cleaning Provision in Lease: If the lease agreement includes an express provision that requires the tenant to clean the property before move-out, the landlord may be able to charge a cleaning fee if the tenant fails to do so.
  • Damage Beyond Normal Wear and Tear: If a tenant causes damage to the property that goes beyond normal wear and tear, the landlord may be able to charge a cleaning fee to cover the cost of repairs.
  • Local Ordinances: Some local ordinances may allow landlords to charge cleaning fees, even if the lease agreement does not. However, these ordinances are typically limited to specific situations, such as when a tenant leaves the property in an extremely unsanitary condition.
Permitted Landlord Cleaning Charges
JurisdictionPermitted Cleaning Charges
CaliforniaCleaning fees are prohibited, except for damage beyond normal wear and tear.
New YorkLandlords may charge a cleaning fee if the tenant leaves the property in an extremely unsanitary condition.
TexasLandlords may charge a cleaning fee if the lease agreement includes an express provision that requires the tenant to clean the property before move-out.

Thanks for sticking with me through this long article about your landlord’s cleaning demands. Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. If you have any further questions, be sure to consult with a housing attorney or your local tenant’s rights organization. Remember, you’re not alone in this. Millions of renters across the country are facing similar issues. By working together, we can fight for our rights and ensure that we are treated fairly by our landlords. Keep an eye out for future articles on important topics like this one. In the meantime, thanks for reading, and I hope to see you again soon! Take care!