Minimizing Costs, Maximizing Rent: Cleaning Between Tenants


Minimizing Costs, Maximizing Rent: Cleaning Between Tenants

Doing a serious deep-clean before the first tenant is a must, but between tenants, it’s often just a waste of money.

A carpet cleaner. Cleaning a carpet.When you get that notice from a tenant that says “Candace is out — peace,” you know what needs to happen, and one of those things is that you need to get the place ready for the next tenant ASAP. That means starting the advertising cycle, checking up on the place’s structural integrity, and of course, cleaning up. But it’s possible (and in fact kind of easy) to overclean.


Step 1: Get the Old Stuff Out
Obviously, you can’t allow a new tenant to move in to a building that has a bunch of stuff in it that isn’t theirs. That’s unprofessional, unless the previous tenant just happened to leave behind a microwave, a pool table, and a sweet table vise in the workshop. Things that count as appliances and furniture, you can keep if they look good and operate well. Everything else must go.

Step 2: Replace the Broken Stuff
This is the part where you start to get discerning. Too many landlords just automatically rip out a stained carpet and replace it, or shell out to replace a stove that looks too grimy to come clean. Don’t! If you replace only the things that are actually broken, and you pay to have those stained carpets and grimy stoves professionally cleaned, you’ll get results that are 97% as good as replacement for 25% or less of the cost.

Step 3: Replace the Imperfect Fixtures
Here’s one place where you do have to just buckle down and spend the money: on fixtures that don’t quite look or work right. Whip out your card and slide it for:

  • Doors and windows that don’t close properly
  • Door handles that stick
  • Any lighting more than two decades old
  • Cabinet and drawer hardware that doesn’t move smoothly and easily
  • Toilets that are constantly running
  • Blinds that have missing, broken, bent, or otherwise troublesome slats
  • Faucets that drip (inside or out!)

Not only are these items far more of a turn-off to potential clients than they’re worth, but each of them will help reduce later maintenance costs. Just get it done.

Step 4: Repaint…If You Have To
Another automatic element of many PM’s cleaning cycle: repainting. Let’s not get ridiculous here: that’s usually not necessary. Ceilings are usually clean, walls will usually come clean with some elbow grease liberally applied with a Magic Eraser, and bannisters and trim and such is usually fine as it is. If you have a hole in the wall that needs repair, sure, patch it up and bust out the matching paint — but in general, if you’ve painted in the last five-to-seven years, you really don’t need to do it again.

Step 5: Fix Up Anything the Tenant Mentions During the Move-In Inspection
Even if the thing they mention isn’t technically a necessity, if it costs less than half a month’s rent, fixing it will be worth your while in the majority of cases — it shows them that you’re serious about their tenancy. And that, in turn, goes a long way toward suggesting that they should be serious about it, too.

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