Do Landlords Have To Clean Between Tenants?

12 May, 5:34 am

With so many people renting in every state and moving from one place to another, this is a question worthy of attention. The focus here is less about legal issues and more about general expectations.

Firstly, we can all agree that when the rental property is handed over to another tenant, it must be clean and in livable condition with everything properly installed.

In this article, we will go into the relevant details tenant cleaning responsibilities and landlord responsibilities before a property can be leased to the next tenant.

Cleaning and maintenance go hand-in-hand, so we will also touch on some areas related to maintenance when a tenant leaves a property.

What should the previous tenants do?

tenant cleaning property before vacating

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As a general rule, tenants should leave the property and all the appliances in the same condition as they received them in.

It is true that moving is notoriously stressful. The tenant will be concerned primarily about the living conditions of the place they are moving to. However, they should also plan to clean the existing property for the next tenant.

– General Cleaning

What the owner or property manager will be looking for before, is a good ‘broom clean’, and not necessarily a full ‘spring clean’ from the tenant.

– Appliances, Carpets and Furniture

Some wear-and-tear is expected with regard to carpets and furniture. The landlord is responsible for this. However, the tenants would be responsible for any damage beyond this.

Think of burns, stains, and the like. Think of furniture that has been chewed, scratched, or torn. The owner would expect the tenant to take care of these things as part of the rental contract.

Appliances should also be kept clean and in good condition. Many have found that baking soda and white vinegar work wonders in this regard.

– Bathroom and kitchen areas

Tenants must not neglect the hygiene standards laid out in the rental contract and must leave the bathroom and kitchen areas free of food, cleaning products, soap scum, grime, grease, and blocked drains.

– General Maintenance

One way to minimize maintenance issues at the end of the contract is to keep up to date with maintenance schedules. Tenants can request these from the property manager or landlord.

Good communication and open dialogue are important here. Generally, everything related to regular maintenance is the landlord’s responsibility. However, tenants won’t want their security deposit to be held back because of not arranging some necessary repairs on their side.

Following local regulations is also important. Sometimes it is just the nuts and bolts that need to be adjusted.

What should the rental property owner do?

property owner doing maintenance before tenant moves in

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A tenant moving is also a demanding and stressful time for landlords. They will need to make time to inspect the property, clean between tenants and handle any maintenance. All of this while trying to procure another tenant.

Lotus Property has a great record when it comes to managing properties, taking the stress away from their clients.

– Inspection

Either the property manager or owner should do an inspection both when a tenant moves in and when they move out. This should be done in the presence of the tenant to avoid disputes. 

This would be the time to address any damages. Once again, open dialogue and mutual understanding go a long way. It is also a good idea to take pictures or to make a short video for later reference.

– Can the owner withhold the security deposit from the previous tenant?

Yes, rental property owners can make use of the security deposit to cover cleaning and maintenance fees.

This would be the case particularly if there are any areas that were left excessively dirty or if any damages were found more than the normal wear-and-tear.

If part or all of the security deposit is withheld to cover the cost of such unusual cleaning between tenants, the owner should provide a detailed list of the damages and expenses incurred.

– Deep Cleaning

As mentioned the previous tenant would be expected to clean before leaving, but ultimately landlords have to clean again before the new tenant moves in. The responsibility to arrange a deep clean would thus fall on the owner and not the tenant.

The landlord or property manager could arrange for everything to be professionally cleaned. This would give the property a great advantage in the market, and a great shine as well!

In fact, whether the previous tenants managed to leave everything in a clean state or not, it is the landlord who will have to clean between tenants and make sure that the rental unit is in safe and livable conditions.

A helpful cleaning checklist

Deep cleaning on vacated property

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When arranging for a deep clean here are just some areas you would want to cover, together with some general tips:

– Kitchen area

Ensure that the cabinets are emptied and cleaned. Appliances and counters should also be wiped clean. Drainage and water systems must be inspected and damages or blockages reported. 

– Bathroom area

Cleanliness in the bathroom can be an important factor for potential tenants. Removing soap scum and any residual dirt may certainly be necessary.

Like with the kitchen, the cabinets should be checked and cleaned. You would also want to make sure the mirrors and glass doors are cleaned.

– Bedroom area

Check under the beds and on top of the closets to make sure that the previous tenants have not left anything behind. Bedrooms and particularly ceiling fans tend to easily collect dust. A professional cleaning service could be a solution if time has run out to do cleaning.

– Carpets

Cleaning the carpets is the landlord’s responsibility. Carpets attract one of the biggest cleaning costs since they tend to become dirty and marked over time. If a tenant has had a pet and there are stains on the carpet, the landlord may request the tenant to pay for deep cleaning. This will form part of the rental contract.

Maintenance Checklist

maintenance on vacant property before tenant moves in

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In essence all maintenance issues fall under the landlord’s responsibilities, including whatever needs to be done between tenants.

Having no tenants in the apartment is actually an advantage, since it will be easier to paint, replace carpets and repair any damages without disturbance or safety hazard.

Here are some areas you would want to focus on:

– Appliances and furniture

If the property is rented with appliances and furniture, the landlord must replace any broken, stained, and old items. 

– Lightbulbs and switches

When inspecting the property, you or your property manager could check all the lightbulbs and keep track of how many need to be replaced.

It might be an added gesture in good faith to wipe and sanitize all switch areas. The same can be done with the door handles.

– Locks and keys

Of course the unit, including any emergency exits, should have all the proper locks and they should not be damaged or without keys. There may even be a point about this in the lease agreement.

If keys are missing, landlords might use this time to change the locks for safety reasons. On the other hand the new tenant may also want to do so and would need to give the landlord a spare set.

– Painting

According to Californian property law, the landlord is not obligated to paint after a tenant leaves the rental property.  A landlord will usually do a re-paint every 3 to 4 years.  

Some rental properties require the tenant to paint when they leave.  Painting is usually dictated by the rental agreement and if not, it is advisable that tenants ask this question to avoid surprises when they vacate the property.


Tenants may regularly clean windows. However, before the new tenants move in, arranging for a professional window clean could add even more confidence to your prospective tenants. Broken or cracked windows may need to be given attention.

That is all for now as far as cleaning and maintenance go


The entire property rental agreement, from when the tenant arrives to when the tenant leaves should be viewed in a comprehensive manner. When the owner hands over a clean apartment in spotless condition this attracts tenants and generates a positive relationship together with trust.

This same thoughtful attitude should be displayed right to the end of the contract. This should in turn motivate tenants to be considerate and collaborative

When leaving tenants should endeavor to have the property in the same livable condition without necessarily expecting the owner to organize all the cleaning.

Lotus West Properties is an award-winning property management company in Venice, Malibu, and West Hollywood as well as other areas in greater LA.  Contact us today to discuss property management or rental needs. 



The rental agreement supersedes all verbal conversations between the landlord, property owner and tenant. Advice given in this article is not intended to override any legal and binding contracts and provides the general rules employed in property management only. Tenants must check with their landlords or property managers for specifics.