One of the least pleasant problems a property manager has to deal with is the dirty tenant. Tenants are allowed to be messy. After all, they are only human, and everyone has different standards of cleanliness. Truly dirty tenants can leave their apartment or rental home in disastrous shape and make life difficult for their neighbors. As a property manager, you need a plan to minimize the dirty tenant problem.

Lease Provisions

Although you cannot legally dictate that your tenants keep things in white glove condition, you can put some cleanliness rules into the lease. You can demand that trash not be allowed to build up in the unit and that it be properly thrown away. You can add a provision that keeps tenants from doing anything that attracts pests, including rodents and roaches. Remember that you cannot dictate individual cleaning tasks and harass your clients to keep a "model" home. 

Your Rights

If you receive a complaint about a dirty apartment or home, you can ask to inspect the residence and see if the tenants are breaking the lease and adversely affecting their neighbors' lives. Tenants are within their rights to be messy. Regular clutter, dust, and occasional dirty dishes are not under your authority. However, things like animal feces on the floor, mold visibly growing on surfaces, or piles of garbage are fire and/or health code violations. You can demand that tenants clean up those items and, if they do not, move to have them evicted. 


Sometimes you do not find out how dirty the residence is until the tenant moves out. State law varies on when you can keep the tenant's security deposit. Usually, you are allowed to keep the deposit to pay for cleaning when the damage to property goes beyond "normal wear and tear." For instance, if the tenant's pet continually relieved itself on the carpet, you could keep enough of the deposit to pay for cleaning or replacing it. 

Finding quality tenants is the best way to avoid this filthy situation, but even tenants with a clean record can let things get dirty fast. You can make your lease as tough on dirt as possible, but remember, you cannot dictate how often tenants perform routine cleaning unless they are hoarding trash or attracting rats and roaches. Do carry out routine inspections and do not hesitate to take action against those tenants who are living in extreme filth. For assistance, hire a property manager like MGR Property Management Inc.