Move Out Cleaning Costs to Budget For

April 16, 2019

Why landlords need to budget for cleaning when a tenant moves out

The main reason it is important for landlords to handle move out cleaning when a tenant vacates the apartment is in the name of efficiency. Every day the apartment sits vacant and is unready for tenancy, potential income is lost. Landlords need to clean as soon as the tenant moves out. It helps with filling the property faster and will allow them to make money again.

The bottom line is that if a property is clean when the tenancy begins, it will serve as the benchmark standard for a tenant to live up to. If the apartment was clean when they moved in, tenants are more likely to maintain this level of cleanliness. If the apartment was dirty, then they are less likely willing to put in extra work into cleaning up.

person cleaning a steel sink

To avoid shelling out unexpected cash on move out cleaning during tenant turnover, preparation is key. The best approach is for property owners to schedule a walk-through with the previous tenant. Catch them before they move out. Point out any areas that need to be tackled or cleaned. This way, the tenant will have a clear idea of what needs to get done before they go.

The walk-through will also give landlords a good idea of what they can expect to have to handle themselves in terms of cleaning, judging by the condition of the property.

What to look out for when a tenant moves out:

  • Stains on the carpet. Even it the tenant took the time to vacuum, property owners are often confronted with stains when they go to inspect the property.
  • Dusty blinds. This is an easy one for tenants to overlook in the rush of moving out. Dusty blinds will immediately give a room a more dirty feel since they are such a focal point.
  • Dirt on the top or inside of appliances. Even if a tenant leaves the appliances looking spotless from the outside, they often will not take the time to tackle the tops of larger appliances and refrigerators. They tend to miss cupboards as well. Cupboards can be major dust traps. Most don’t remember those pesky nooks and crannies and the floors directly underneath or around where appliances sit.


Start with a clean slate

Landlords need to take a realistic approach as to what is expected when a tenant leaves. Even the best tenant probably won’t leave the place move-in ready. While landlords may be able to use a previous tenant’s security deposit to cover some of the cost of cleaning, everyday wear and tear will not be covered.

three cleaning supplies, a mop, a broom, and a dustpan

For example, if the carpet has seen better days, it’s on the property owner to pay for the replacement. The more prepared a landlord is to tackle cleaning, the sooner they will be able to get a new tenant moved in and start making money again.

Potential costs to budget for:

  • Carpet cleansing: A carpet that is clean and smells fresh will create a much better atmosphere and overall impression for the new tenant. The costs of carpet cleansing will vary according to the company. Square footage and the overall condition that the apartment is left in are common factors. In general, landlords should expect to pay about 25–50 cents per square foot of carpeting.
  • Windows: The costs of getting windows professionally cleaned is about $5 per window, but large or hard to reach surfaces will cost more. Don’t forget about screens, that will cost about $3 each. Landlords can also opt to save a few dollars and tackle this one themselves.
  • Floor polishing: Whether hardwood or linoleum, investing a bit extra to make sure that the floor is not only clean but looks shiny and new will go a long way. Floor treatments, such as polishing and waxing, will typically cost about 25–50 cents per square foot.
  • Furniture: Landlords who rent furnished apartments should be prepared to invest a bit extra in cleaning. Any couches or fabric furniture, in particular, should be freshened at a minimum. The cost of a typical couch destaining and freshening can vary between $50–$100 per couch.
  • General cleansing: Regardless of the condition it was left in, the property will still need a deep cleansing. This will ensure that it is move-in ready. Landlords have the choice of doing the cleansing themselves or hiring somebody to do it for them. The cost of professional cleaners will usually be between $25–$50 per hour.

As a general rule, property owners should set aside about $200 per 1000 square feet of property for move out cleaning costs during a tenant changeover.

At Blueground, we understand that the cleansing costs or labor associated with tenant turnover can be a real pain. That’s why we have created a system to take the burden of tenant changeover off the landlord. When property owners lease out their property to Blueground, we take care of decorating the apartment, finding reliable tenants, and each and every aspect of tenant changeover.

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