Property Management Cleaning Services: 13 Mistakes That Property Managers Make

Written by TaskEasy, Inc.
on August 25, 2020

When residents move out of rental units, they leave behind a lot more than a legacy: pet hair, soap scum, and other unpleasant mementos. In order to attract new residents to your rental properties, a detailed cleaning is essential. Plus, a strong first impression will help avoid vacancies in the future - more than half of residents who are satisfied when they move in will renew their leases.


Cleanliness will set the precedence for how you want the property maintained

A clean house will rent faster, attract better residents, and look much better in listing photos.  Potential tenants with high cleaning standards that will take care of the rental will be driven away if it looks like they stumbled upon someone’s current housing. New renters who see a clean environment will likely give as much attention to the property as they see that you have done.

If a new tenant moves into an unkept property, there’s a very slim chance that they will clean it thoroughly when they move out or care to clean it well while they are there. Now is the time to set a standard for how you wish to keep a property clean moving forward.

Aren’t tenants responsible for move-out cleaning?

Tenants generally are responsible for cleaning the entire house when they move out. But as tenants are preoccupied with packing up all their belongings, property cleanings are not at the top of their priority list.

Make expectations clear

Property managers should strive to make the move a great experience for their tenants. Provide new residents with a checklist so that your expectations for regular cleaning are clear. This way, prospective tenants are fully aware of what they are responsible for to get their deposit back. Perhaps you can even recommend professional cleaning services that you trust to ensure peace of mind for you and residents alike.

Property managers should be specific about what is required for a proper cleaning. A tenant may spend hours cleaning and not see a penny from their security deposit because the property manager was ambiguous about their expectations. The tenant will leave unsatisfied and unlikely to recommend the property management company to family or friends.

Do a final walkthrough to assess if the property is ready to go. Property managers may have to clean a few areas where the tenants didn’t quite hit the mark (often they will enlist a professional cleaning crew - TaskEasy offers comprehensive deep cleaning and refresh cleans for vacant properties). Avoid these common cleaning mistakes that property managers make during move-out cleaning when preparing for a new tenant to move in.

1: Not documenting the property condition

One of the top things to remember about the cleaning process is to keep a photo history of the entire property. Take pictures before the new tenant moves in. Documenting the property condition will protect both the tenant and the property manager.

If a tenant claims that a big scuff was on the wall when they moved in, you can easily pull up the photos to determine whose responsibility it is to fix. These photos will help you maintain continuity between leases.

2: Overlooking window cleaning

One of the top things that real estate agents recommend to sell a home quickly is to make sure homes have clean windows. Property managers should follow that same advice to acquire a new tenant in the rentals.

Dirt, dust, and grime form on windows that aren’t washed regularly. A clean, clear window will let light into the room, making it feel brighter and more open. Clean windows are an essential piece of any effective property listing that will allow you to fill your vacancies faster.

Be sure to wipe down the window sill and track. They are often black with dirt and dead bugs. Missing those could push your potential tenants over the edge and start looking for a place to live elsewhere.

3: Not cleaning baseboards and doors

Make sure you spend time caring for the wood features throughout the property. Baseboards, doors, and door frames are often overlooked during move-out cleaning. Wiping these items down is an easy task that will go a long way. You can use a vacuum or damp cloth (with warm water), and most areas will only require a basic clean.

4: Leaving the oven to the self-clean function

All ovens come with a helpful self-clean function, which incinerates the food cooked on the inside. This is a useful function to get rid of big food pieces but may not be the complete cleaning solution you're looking for.

Having a dirty oven not only looks gross, but also can cause the oven to release pollutants into the air and malfunction. Built-up dirt and grease can block the filters which cause the oven to cook the food incorrectly.

Spray a specialized oven cleaner throughout the inside and scrub down any grease or food particles sticking around.

5: Ignoring the danger of mold

Mold could cause health problems for your tenants and legal issues for you if not taken care of immediately. Once your tenants move out, checking for mold in areas with excess moisture is essential.

The bathroom is the most common place where mold will grow because of the moisture locked into the room after a steamy shower. Check on the ground surrounding the toilet, under the sink for leaky pipes, and in the shower.

If you find mold, it’s not the end of the world. It can generally be taken care of with bleach-based cleaning supplies and some scrubbing. Make sure the bathroom fan works properly to prevent mold from forming any further.

6: Maintaining the carpet with just a vacuum cleaner

A clean carpet can make the whole unit appear cleaner instantly. Carpets should be cleaned professionally instead of an at-home remedy to give your carpets the longest life possible.

Request that your tenants get the carpet cleaned professionally and provide a receipt to know it’s been taken care of. If you’d rather work with your preferred vendor, include the cost of carpet cleaning as part of the non-refundable deposit.

Sometimes, the whole carpet must go. Depending on the color, quality, and traffic, the carpet should be replaced every 5-15 years.

7: Not cleaning the whole toilet

Toilets are usually the most sat-on seats in a home, and as a result, one of the least desirable maintenance tasks to perform. Most people are aware that they must clean their toilets with an all-purpose cleaner and white vinegar on a somewhat regular basis. But do your renters clean every inch of it? A clean toilet requires you to clean all of the following:

  • Toilet bowl
  • Toilet seat
  • Lid
  • Hinges
  • Tank cover
  • Base

As part of the cleaning, also make sure to clean the walls and floor surrounding the toilet well. With one flush, the bacteria can be sent into the air and fall on the walls and floor.

8: Cleaning and re-cleaning older appliances

If you’re spending hours trying to make the shelves in the 15-year-old refrigerator glisten, consider that it might be time to replace it altogether. New appliances don’t lock in dirt as easily as older appliances. They require a much less intense cleaning effort inside and out.

Bonus! New appliances not only look good, but they come with lower maintenance costs and allow you to increase rent costs.

9: Only cleaning what you can see

It’s natural only to want to spend the time and money cleaning things that are visible, hoping that no one else notices. Tenants may have done just that as they were cleaning, so you may have to spend extra time on areas like attics and crawl spaces.

Check these spaces with a flashlight for mold, dust, water damage, or anything else that looks like it needs extra attention.

10: Forgetting about the small things

Small items like doorknobs are constantly touched yet are rarely cleaned. For the most part, you can dust and wipe down the following with a disinfecting wipe for an adequate clean:

  • Light fixtures
  • Outlets
  • Doorknobs
  • Cabinet doors and handles
  • Drawer handles

11: Not dusting ceiling fans

Even if it’s on the checklist that tenants received, they often won’t dust hard-to-reach areas and ceiling fixtures like lights or fans. Very few renters own ladders that are necessary to reach these fixtures in rooms with high ceilings.

While fans are constantly moving, they can still collect a thick layer of dust. After a new tenant moves in, they could be the unlucky soul that turns on the fan only to watch the dust settle on their brand new furniture. They will be off to an unhappy start with your property management company and might start counting down the days until their lease ends.

12: Not wiping down drawers and cupboards

Open up all the drawers and cupboards to make sure that the tenants didn’t leave anything behind. Most tenants will have removed all of the big things but might not have thoroughly cleaned inside. There’s a good chance that there will be crumbs or spills left inside.

Wipe everything to ensure that anything that is left doesn’t attract pests.

13: Only cleaning the interior

A clean exterior is just as, if not more important than the interior. If the outside doesn’t look clean and put together, a potential tenant on their way to check out the property will drive right past it onto the next rental.

Clean the exterior of the home with a power washer to knock down any dirt build-up. Landscaping is part of the exterior cleaning process as well. Weed the flowerbeds and mow the lawn. If the property is vacant, you will have to continue caring for the landscaping until a new tenant takes on the responsibility. TaskEasy can keep your yard in mint condition so you can focus on finding new tenants.

What Rental Property Owners Need to Know

While the time between residents can be challenging and it might seem tempting to cut corners and forgo professional cleaning services, it's imperative to lay the groundwork for future satisfied tenants.

That's especially true if you’re managing a broad portfolio of properties, and spending time doing these cleanings at each vacancy is not reasonable. TaskEasy offers nationwide property cleaning services for deep house cleaning and move-out cleaning for your entire portfolio, even if they cross city or state lines. Request a cleaning service for your vacant properties at the click of a button.


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