Every property manager has heard this phrase many times. As a property owner, you may have experienced these words first-hand from a resident yourself, and no one ever wants to hear it because it often means there’s trouble directly ahead.
Three things can lead to this scenario. First, there are times when tenants actually do deliver a property in better condition even though the property was clean when they took possession. They are simply meticulous people – this does happen.
Second, the majority of tenants who make this statement are trying to put you on the defensive because they want their security deposit back in full—even though they know the property is not as clean as when they moved in. The third and last scenario is that it is actually is cleaner because the property was in poor condition when they moved in.
The first scenario is the one you cross your fingers and hope for. The second is manageable with good documentation and common sense to dispute the tenant’s claim. The last one is the trickiest.
This is why it’s so important to have the property in the best condition when a tenant takes possession. As Stephen Covey teaches in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Begin with the end in mind.” In order to have the best possible ending with that tenant, you have to be well situated at the beginning of the tenancy.
By having the property clean and in good condition, you have the best chance of attracting the right tenancy. When the property is clean when they move in, you send a message that this is what you expect when they move out. You also set the stage for a good landlord/tenant relationship. Otherwise, residents begin dissatisfied and the tenancy can deteriorate from there.
As your management company, we want to avoid unpleasant and costly problems for your investment, so we have certain requirements when properties transition between tenants.
We have the same “clean” standards for all properties and require vendors to follow these standards. This applies to both the inside and outside of the unit.
Unless unnecessary, we have a professional cleaning of properties so that we have documentation to support the security deposit disposition when the tenant moves out.
We use reliable vendors to complete the professional cleaning.
We document the condition of the property before the tenant moves in, and again when the tenant moves out.
We notify tenants when they move in what the expectations of cleanliness are when they move out.
What you don’t want is a security deposit dispute when they move out, particularly one that can lead to legal issues. There is a simple answer to this – have the property clean when residents move in. Then you are on solid ground when the tenants move out.