Is there a Nice Way to Ask Your Tenants to Clean Up?

As a landlord, dealing with tenants at your apartment buildings is not always the easiest task.  Cleaning up after your residents can be difficult, but with the right mindset and tactics, there are three steps that can help encourage residents to do their part and clean up.

Why This Matters 

Note: You should always double check that your lease has a clause that states your residents are expected to maintain health and safety standards.  

As a landlord, costs associated with maintenance are a big expense that can be mitigated with the right management in place. The problem arises when tenants don’t see their lack of cleanliness as an issue; this lifestyle can lead to costly damages to your property through structural damage and pest or rodent infestation.

While a solution to tackle this problem is vetting the tenants thoroughly to better ensure that you will rent to hygienic tenants, this is very hard to guarantee.

Three Steps

There are three steps to nicely ask the tenant to clean up:

  • Step 1: Open the dialogue with the tenant
  • Step 2: Follow up with documentation, proving that you have been communicating with the tenant 
  • Step 3: Send a formal letter 

Step 1: Open the Dialogue with the Tenant

Have a conversation with the tenant to explain the options they have to clean up and the repercussions associated with noncompliance.  When you become aware that your tenants are losing their cleanliness on your property, make it known that you are starting to see a potential problem. 

Don’t worry if contact isn’t made at a moment’s notice of a problem, because you will be able to see if there is progress towards fixing the problem or not.   Contact them in a professional manner, and speak to them in a firm yet fair voice to convey that you have empathy toward them, but are also a respectable figure who needs to get the message across.

An example of how to approach the tenant is:

“I noticed that there are heavy stains in the garage floor.  I trust that you know how to take care of yourself and the property, yet I have some concerns about health and safety violations.”

Step 2: Follow up with Documentation, Proving that You have been Communicating

Follow-up to see what progress has been made.  Visit the property to make a visual inspection and take pictures.  Keep progress images and all documentation handy with dates and times.  Also have further documentation including call and email log on hand.  

At this stage, you must determine if there has been progress or not.  If there has not been progress, or it is very minimal, you must continue to step three.

Step 3: Send a Formal Letter

Finally, if the tenant doesn’t want to work with you, the final step is sending a formal notice.   This notice must be in writing and reviewed by a lawyer to make sure the right legal language is employed and that the message is clear.

“Dear Tenant, It has come to my attention that you are not abiding by section __ of the lease agreement.  Here are some lease violation reminders.” 

By writing to the tenant, you have documentation letting him/her know they are violating the lease agreement and that the problems need to be corrected.

“A management inspection of your apartment has been scheduled for ___. 
Failure to comply can result in breach of lease agreement which can lead to tenants paying for damages or even a notice to clean up or leave the premises.”

Before closing the letter, schedule an inspection letting the tenant know what could happen should he not clean his apartment.

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