How to Encourage Tenants to Keep Common Areas Clean

By Aidan Cannon on October 27, 2023

Renting apartments or houses to students is always a risk. It isn’t their property, so they won’t treat it with the same level of care as yourself, and often they can leave the space looking quite messy. Still, as the property owner, it’s understandable that you would want the residence to look clean and presentable. While bedrooms function as private spaces and should be left alone until tenants move out, common areas are easily observed whenever you or anyone else visits the residence and can give you a good idea of how your student renters are treating your space. A well-maintained common area indicates the renters are taking care of your property, thus not hurting its value. You can tell your tenants to clean up the common areas as many times as you like, but the best way to guarantee they actually do it is by incentivizing them in some way. Use this guide to ensure your student tenants clean the common areas and protect the investment you put into the property.

Image from Pixabay

Perform regular walkthroughs

The best way to assess how your property is being treated is to perform regular walkthroughs of your property while you have tenants living inside them. These visits could be built into your lease, with a scheduled monthly visit or more frequently if you start developing serious concerns. Alert your tenants ahead of time that you will be stopping by for a visit so they have adequate time to clean up small messes and give you a better chance to evaluate if any serious damage has been done to the property. Each visit provides an opportunity to evaluate the state of common areas and ensure that appliances, furniture, and decor are all being handled with care. If you see something in the common area that isn’t to your liking, gather all your renters and discuss your grievances with them. This will give them a better idea of how you want the common areas to be treated and hopefully mitigate future issues. Follow up via text or email later with a summary of your talking points later in the day so you have what you discussed in writing. This way, you can point out that you’d previously noticed these specific issues should they not be rectified in the future.

Place a cleaning clause in the lease

If maintaining the cleanliness of your property is a huge priority for you, put a cleaning clause in your lease. This can be used to specify what areas of the property you want the clients to be responsible for maintaining, which materials to use, and how frequently they should be cleaning them. This will encourage renters to keep the common areas in good shape, which you can observe and enforce when you do your regularly scheduled walkthroughs. Putting this clause in the lease will also protect you in the event that the common area is seriously damaged, since you will be able to point to the lease that states it was the tenants’ responsibility to take care of. It may be worth issuing one warning or reminder to your tenants if you feel the property isn’t being treated well on one of your scheduled visits, but if their negligence continues, the consequences will be theirs to bear.

Discuss cleaning fees

If your tenants have been warned/asked to clean the common areas and still fail to do so, it’s time to discuss cleaning fees with them. You need to keep the property in good shape, and they need to pay for the damage they caused or the mess they made. The cleaning services can be done by yourself, hired cleaners, or a combination of the two. When you think these services will be needed, try to estimate how much the bill will be so your tenants have an understanding of how much money they owe. After the work has been done, provide tenants with receipts showing the prices of materials and labor. This will prevent them from becoming upset if the total bill exceeds your initial estimates, as you can prove they aren’t artificially inflated charges. Should the final cost end up being less than your estimate, you will have built trust with your tenants, as they will see you didn’t increase the price just to squeeze them for money.

Offer a reward

Finally, there are ways to incentivize renters to clean that aren’t punitive. In fact, the carrot is often more effective than the stick when it comes to getting people to do things for you. Consider offering some kind of reward to your tenants if they keep your space clean. This could be as generous as discounts on rent and utilities, or upgrading the furnishings and appliances in the property. This might sound like a big price to pay, but the improved facilities will further increase the value of your property, and you can rest assured that they won’t be damaged as your tenants have already proven they can treat the space with care.

When you rent out a space you own, you’re naturally going to be concerned about whether or not your new tenants will respect it the way you would. Luckily, there are ways to incentivize them to keep your space clean. Use this guide to help encourage your renters to keep common areas clean.

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