Can A Landlord Tell You How Clean To Keep Your House?

If you are wondering if your landlord can force you keep your dwelling at a certain level of cleanliness, you are in the right place.

In this article, I am going to cover whether a landlord can tell you how clean to keep your house and discuss what specific areas of the home most landlords are going to care about.

As a starting point, it’s important to understand that the level of cleanliness that you need to comply with is going to be governed by two things: your lease and your state and local laws.

As a general matter, landlords will require you to keep your house safe and sanitary. They will expect you to control moisture to prevent the spread of mold, take out garbage regularly, store food in a way that prevents pest infestations, and generally maintaining your home to prevent health issues or damage to the property.

In contrast, most landlords (and laws) do not have requirements around specific tasks that you normally associate with a tidy dwelling, such as vacuuming, making your bed, wiping away dust, and so on.

In this article, I am going to cover what’s required and why and provide some tips on how you can keep your place in reasonably clean shape so that your landlord doesn’t raise a huge fuss when he sees your unit during maintenance checks, etc.

Let’s get into it!

The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only.  It is not legal advice.  You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.

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What’s the Bare Minimum of Cleanliness Required By Landlords

Most landlords care about keeping their property in a good, sanitary and safe condition. They generally won’t care if you are messy and have papers, clothes, other clutter laying around. But they will care, if you are living in filth and creating conditions that affect habitability or that cause harm to the property.

That means if you have unwashed dishes in your sink that have been sitting there for weeks and are starting to attract flies, roaches, mice or other pests, they will object to that because it can be a safety hazard. The same thing applies to trash that is not taken out or is lying all over the place.

Landlords also tend to care about mold because it can ruin their property and be a safety hazard to you and others.

Similarly, if your toilet or drain has been backed up and is creating an unsanitary condition in your home, that is usually a huge issue as well.

Because these are important issues for landlords (and in most cases important under the law), you will often see lease provisions that address each of these points.

How To Keep Your Home Clean

Given this, how should you keep your home compliant?

We’ll tackle some of the most important areas of the home and provide tips on how to keep things clean and safe for you (and keep you out of hot water with your landlord).

Keep The Kitchen Clean

Your kitchen is one of the most important areas to keep clean because it is where you handle and cook food, dispose of leftover food, and clean dishes and utensils.

Because the kitchen has a lot of food, pests love to congregate there. The best way to prevent them from taking over your kitchen is to not leave food lying around.

Clean dishes promptly. Throw away leftovers in trash bags and remove them from your home once it starts to get full or rancid. Do not leave food packages open where pests can access them.

Make sure that food you throw into your food disposer isn’t lying around and has been pulverized and drained away.

These simple tips will help you maintain a safe, clean and tidy kitchen.

Keep Your Bathroom Clean

Bathroom are also really important to keep clean. However, the issue here is not about food. It’s about moisture and mold.

Landlords are going to care about preventing the spread of mold and they know that bathrooms are a prime area for mold growth.

Here are some tips for controlling mold.

After each shower, you will want to air out the bathroom by turning on the bathroom exhaust fan. This will keep the moisture level down in the bathroom and prevent mold from gaining a foothold.

You will also want to watch for mold that is growing on tiles, caulking and grout. Blast them away with mold killing sprays before they start to take hold. Once they embed themselves in caulking it will be tough to get it out. You may need to re-caulk affected areas from time to time.

Make sure you address any toilet clogs promptly. You do not want filth sitting in your bathroom for any extended period of time.

If you see any leaks from anywhere, make sure you address it quickly. Leaks not only waste water, they can erode surfaces and cause a lot of damage to the property. Notify your landlord early so that it can be fixed before it turns into a much bigger problem.

What Else Can Your Landlord Tell You To Clean?

Pet Mess

If your landlord allows you to have pets, you want to make sure you are as respectful and clean as possible. Again, not properly cleaning up after your pet can cause a host of issues, including health issues, so it’s a big deal.

You should, at a minimum, make sure your pet is trained, and that they can use the bathroom outside or in a tray.

As mentioned, if you pet takes care of business indoors (or makes a mistake), you need to dispose of it quickly and in a contained and sanitary way. If you are not taking care of pet mess properly, this can escalate into a serious health department issue – you definitely don’t want that.

Can You Be Evicted For Being Messy?

Ultimately, yes, you may be evicted for not having a clean home, especially if the particular violations are a breach of your lease or a violation of law.

Final Thoughts

It is important to live in a clean and tidy environment, especially if you are renting. Not only will it keep you in your landlord’s good graces, but you will be able to enjoy a safe and clean house, which I think everyone deserves. We hope you found our tips and answers helpful.