Are Tenants Responsible for Cleaning When Moving Out?

Published: 24 Apr, 2023

Last Updated: 05 Jul, 2023

Serik Baimoldayev

Serik Baimoldayev

When it comes to the query of whether tenants must clean up upon leaving a rental, there is no definitive answer. In this article, we’ll look into the nuances of tenant and landlord duties when it comes to move-out cleaning, as well as state regulations that oversee these requirements.

As a tenant, understanding your duties in preserving the cleanliness of a rental property can help you avoid conflicts with your landlord or property management. We’ll explore various scenarios where tenants may be required to perform deep cleaning or hire professional cleaning services before vacating their homes.

In addition to discussing tenant moves and their implications on security deposit refunds, we will also provide valuable insights about what landlords are responsible for in terms of keeping common areas clean and habitable. Lastly, our comprehensive moving-out checklist will help ensure a smooth transition for both parties involved when addressing the topic of “are tenants responsible for cleaning when moving out?”.

Table of Contents:

Tenant Cleaning Responsibilities

Before leaving, tenants should ensure that the rental unit is in a clean and presentable state to maintain good relations with their landlord and maximize the chance of receiving a full security deposit refund. Below, we will discuss some key cleaning tasks that should be completed before moving out.

A. Wiping Down Surfaces

All surfaces in your rental unit should be wiped down and cleaned thoroughly. This includes countertops, shelves, windowsills, baseboards, and any other flat surfaces throughout the home. Be sure to use appropriate cleaning products for each surface type to avoid causing damage or leaving residue behind. For example, stainless steel appliances require specific cleaners designed for their material.

B. Vacuuming Carpets

Carpets can accumulate dirt and debris over time; therefore, it’s essential to vacuum them properly before moving out. Pay special attention to high-traffic areas, such as hallways and living rooms where dirt may have become embedded into carpet fibers more deeply than in less-used spaces like bedrooms or closets.

C. Pet Hair Removal

If you have pets at home during your tenancy period, then pet hair removal becomes even more important while cleaning carpets before moving out as this might cause allergies in future tenants if left unattended. You can use specialized pet hair vacuums or attachments on regular vacuum cleaners designed specifically for removing pet hair from carpets effectively.

D. Removing Personal Items

Before moving out, remove all personal items from the rental unit. This includes furniture, clothing, kitchenware, and any other belongings that you brought into the space during your tenancy. Be sure to check closets, cabinets, and storage areas for any forgotten items.

E. Disposing of Trash Properly

In addition to removing personal belongings from your rental unit before moving out, dispose of any trash or debris properly. This may involve recycling certain materials, donating unwanted items in good condition, or simply ensuring that garbage is placed in appropriate bins for pickup by waste management services.

F. Cleaning Appliances

It’s important not only to clean surfaces but also appliances like ovens, refrigerators, dishwashers, etc. Ensure they are free from food particles residue left behind after usage over time. For example, cleaning oven racks using a mixture of baking soda and water paste can help remove stubborn grease stains without causing damage to the appliance itself.

Taking care of these tenant cleaning responsibilities will ensure a smooth transition when moving out and increase the likelihood of receiving your deposit in full. If you’re unsure about how best to tackle specific tasks, consider hiring professional cleaners who specialize in move-out cleaning, as discussed further in the next section of our blog post.

Tenants should always aim to return the rental property in a condition that is as pristine and orderly as when they first moved in. Moving on, landlords also have certain obligations regarding cleaning when their tenants move out.

Key Takeaway: As a tenant, it is your obligation to thoroughly clean the rental unit before vacating. This includes wiping down surfaces, vacuuming carpets and removing pet hair, disposing of trash properly, cleaning appliances like ovens and refrigerators, and removing all personal items from the space. Taking care of these tasks will help maintain a good relationship with your landlord and increase the chances of receiving your security deposit in full.

2. Landlord Cleaning Responsibilities

When a tenant vacates, landlords must guarantee that the rental unit is safe and inhabitable for future occupants by completing certain duties. While the outgoing tenant should leave the property clean and undamaged, it’s essential for landlords to inspect the unit thoroughly and address any issues that may arise.

A. Inspecting the Rental Unit

The first step for landlords after a tenant moves out is conducting an inspection of the rental unit. Examining the residence completely, including walls, floors, appliances, plumbing features, electrical systems and more is necessary to evaluate any destruction or uncleanliness caused by the tenant so that remediation or cleaning can be done before new occupants move in. It’s crucial to identify any damage or uncleanliness caused by the tenant so that necessary repairs or cleaning can be carried out before new tenants move in.

B. Addressing Damage or Uncleanliness

If damage or uncleanliness is discovered during inspection, it’s up to landlords to take appropriate action promptly. Depending on what they find during their assessment:

  • Minor wear-and-tear: If there are only minor signs of wear-and-tear (e.g., scuff marks on walls), these can typically be addressed with simple touch-ups using paint or other materials.
  • Moderate damages: For more significant damages (e.g., broken appliances), professional repair services may need to be hired.
  • Cleaning needs: If additional cleaning beyond what was done by tenants is required (e.g., deep carpet cleaning), hiring professional cleaners might become necessary.

C. Preparing the Unit for New Tenants

Once any damages or uncleanliness have been addressed, landlords should ensure that the rental unit is in move-in ready condition. This may involve:

  • Making sure all appliances are functioning properly.
  • Checking that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are installed and working correctly.
  • Ensuring all locks on doors and windows are secure.
  • Performing a final walk-through to confirm everything is in order before new tenants move in.

Taking care of these landlord cleaning responsibilities not only helps maintain the property’s value but also creates a welcoming environment for future tenants, setting the stage for a positive landlord-tenant relationship from day one.

When it comes to landlord cleaning responsibilities, tenants should always check their lease agreement for specific requirements and expectations. A professional cleaning company may be an ideal solution to make sure the premises is returned in its initial state when vacating.

Key Takeaway: Upon a tenant’s departure, landlords must inspect the unit for damage and cleanliness, ensuring all appliances are working properly and safety measures such as locks on doors and windows are secure before new tenants move in. Landlords should check that all appliances are operational, smoke and CO detectors are correctly placed, locks on entrances and windows secure, then do a last walk-through prior to new tenants entering to maintain the property’s worth.

Are Tenants Responsible for Cleaning When Moving Out?

When it comes to moving out of a rental property, one of the most common questions tenants have is whether they are responsible for cleaning the unit before they leave. The answer to this question depends on a few factors, including the rental agreement and state landlord-tenant laws.

Tenant’s Responsibility

In most cases, tenants are responsible for leaving the rental unit in the same condition it was in when they moved in. This means that they are generally responsible for cleaning the unit before they move out. However, the level of cleaning required can vary depending on the rental agreement and the property manager’s expectations.

If the rental agreement specifies that the tenant must leave the unit “broom clean,” this means that they are only required to sweep or vacuum the floors and remove any personal belongings. However, if the unit is excessively dirty or has not been well-maintained during the tenant’s occupancy, the landlord may require a deep clean or hire cleaners to do the job.

Landlord’s Responsibilities

While tenants are typically responsible for cleaning the unit, landlords also have certain responsibilities when it comes to maintaining the property. This includes cleaning common areas, such as hallways and stairwells, and ensuring that the unit is in good condition before a new tenant moves in.

Additionally, landlords are required to follow state landlord-tenant laws, which may outline specific cleaning requirements for move-out inspections. For example, some states require landlords to provide tenants with a move-out inspection checklist that outlines the cleaning tasks they must complete before moving out.

Professional Cleaning Services

Hiring professional cleaning services can be a great help for tenants who want to ensure their rental unit is spotless before moving out. These services typically offer comprehensive cleaning packages that cover every nook and cranny of your home, making it easier for you to focus on packing and preparing for the move.

Benefits of Hiring Professionals

  • Expertise: Professional cleaners have the experience and knowledge needed to tackle even the toughest stains and messes, ensuring your rental unit looks its best when you leave.
  • Time-saving: With so much going on during a move, hiring professionals allows you to save time by not having to worry about deep-cleaning every surface in your home.
  • Pet-friendly options: Many professional cleaning companies offer pet-friendly solutions that are safe for both your furry friends and children while still effectively removing dirt, allergens, and odors from carpets or upholstery.

To find reputable professional cleaning services near you, consider asking friends or family members for recommendations or searching online review websites like Yelp. Be sure to compare prices as well as customer reviews before making a decision.

Tips for Working with Professional Cleaners

  1. Schedule in advance: Book your appointment with the cleaning service at least two weeks ahead of time – this will give them enough notice, so they can fit you into their schedule without any issues arising due to last-minute bookings.
  2. Create an inventory list: Make a list of all areas within your rental unit that require special attention (e.g., stubborn stains, high-traffic areas) and provide this to the cleaning service, so they can address these issues accordingly.
  3. Clear out personal items: Before the cleaners arrive, ensure all your belongings are packed away or removed from the property. This will make it easier for them to clean efficiently without any obstructions.

Incorporating professional cleaning services into your moving plan is a smart way to guarantee that you leave your rental unit in pristine condition. For more information about moving and storage solutions during this busy time, visit SEKA Moving.

Key Takeaway: Tenants typically must clean the rental before they depart, however how much tidying is necessary can depend on the lease and landlord’s standards. Landlords also have certain responsibilities when it comes to maintaining the property, including cleaning common areas and ensuring that the unit is in good condition before a new tenant moves in. Hiring professional cleaners can be beneficial for tenants who want to ensure their rental unit is spotless before moving out.

4. Security Deposit Refunds

One of the main concerns for tenants when moving out is receiving their security deposit refund. In this section, we will discuss what factors may affect the return of your security deposit and provide some tips on making sure you leave the rental unit in an acceptable condition.

A. Understanding Your Lease Agreement

The first step towards securing your security deposit refund is understanding the terms of your lease agreement. This document outlines both landlord and tenant responsibilities, including cleaning requirements before moving out. Ensure to thoroughly examine the conditions of your lease agreement and abide by them as much as possible.

B. Proper Cleaning Procedures

To increase the chances of getting a full security deposit refund, make sure that you follow proper cleaning procedures when preparing to move out:

  • Vacuum carpets thoroughly.
  • Thoroughly clean all surfaces such as countertops, sinks, bathtubs/showers, toilets and more to ensure a full security deposit refund.
  • Wipe down walls and baseboards with a damp cloth or sponge.
  • Mop hard floors using appropriate cleaners for each type (e.g., wood floor cleaner).
  • Remove any debris left behind by pets or children (e.g., pet hair).

C. Repairing Damages Caused During Tenancy

If there are any damages caused during tenancy that go beyond normal wear-and-tear (such as holes in walls), it’s essential that you repair these damages before moving out. Failure to do so may result in your landlord withholding a portion of your security deposit.

D. Documenting the Rental Unit’s Condition

To ensure a fair security deposit refund, it’s wise to take photos or videos of the rental unit upon move-in and prior to moving out as evidence that any pre-existing issues were not caused by you during your tenancy. This will provide evidence that any pre-existing issues were not caused by you during your tenancy and help ensure that you receive a fair security deposit refund.

E. Communicating with Your Landlord

Lastly, maintain open communication with your landlord throughout the process of cleaning and repairing any damages within the rental unit. By keeping them informed about what steps are being taken to prepare for move-out, they’ll be more likely to understand if minor issues arise and work together towards resolving them without affecting your security deposit refund.

Security deposits when leasing can be a tricky subject, so it’s essential to have knowledge of the rules and regulations associated with them. Moving out can be a stressful process, but having an organized checklist can help make sure everything goes smoothly.

Key Takeaway: To ensure a full security deposit refund, tenants should understand their lease agreement and adhere to cleaning requirements. Proper cleaning procedures such as vacuuming carpets, wiping down surfaces, and repairing damages caused during tenancy are crucial. Documenting the rental unit’s condition through photos or videos and maintaining open communication with the landlord can also help avoid disputes.

5. Moving Out Checklist

Exiting a rental abode can be an arduous and lengthy endeavor, particularly for bustling households with kids and animals. Creating a moving out checklist can help tenants ensure that they have completed all necessary tasks before leaving their rental units, such as cleaning and removing all personal items from the property. By adhering to this thorough guide, you can ensure that your rental unit is in perfect condition upon departure.

A. Cleaning Tasks

  • Vacuum carpets: Thoroughly vacuum all carpeted areas to remove dirt, pet hair, and debris.
  • Sweep floors: Sweep hard surface floors like hardwood or tile to eliminate dust and dirt buildup.
  • Mop floors: Mop any non-carpeted flooring surfaces using an appropriate cleaner for the material type (e.g., wood floor cleaner).
  • Clean countertops & cabinets: Wipe down kitchen counters, bathroom vanities, and cabinet interiors with warm soapy water or an appropriate cleaning solution.
  • Clean appliances: Clean the inside of major appliances like ovens (see how here), refrigerators (cleaning tips here), microwaves (step-by-step guide here), dishwashers (cleaning guide here), and washing machines (instructions here).
  • Clean windows: Wash interior window surfaces, including glass panes, sills, and tracks.
  • Remove cobwebs: Use a duster or vacuum cleaner attachment to remove any cobwebs from corners of rooms and ceilings.

B. Personal Items & Debris Removal

  • Pack belongings: Ensure all personal items are packed in boxes or bags for transport to your new home.
  • Delete personal information: Remove any stored data on appliances with digital interfaces (e.g., smart thermostats).
  • Dismantle furniture: Disassemble large pieces of furniture that cannot be moved as-is (e.g., bed frames), keeping track of hardware components for reassembly at the new location.
  • Dispose trash: Collect and dispose of any remaining garbage in appropriate receptacles outside the rental unit.

C. Final Inspection & Key Return

  • Walk-through inspection: Conduct a final walk-through with your landlord to review the condition of the property before moving out.

According to state landlord-tenant laws, tenants are generally responsible for move-out cleaning. This means that tenants are expected to leave the rental property in the same condition as when they moved in, with the exception of normal wear and tear. Failure to do so may result in deductions from the security deposit.

However, it is important to note that landlord responsibilities may vary depending on the rental agreement. Some landlords may require tenants to hire a cleaning company to perform move-out cleaning, while others may only require tenants to leave the property “broom clean.”

It is always best to communicate with the property manager or landlord to clarify move-out cleaning expectations and avoid any misunderstandings. By following the above checklist and communicating with the landlord, tenants can ensure a smooth and stress-free move-out process.

Key Takeaway: Tenants are generally responsible for move-out cleaning, but landlord responsibilities may vary depending on the rental agreement. To avoid any misunderstandings, it is best to communicate with the property manager or landlord and follow a comprehensive moving out checklist that includes cleaning tasks, personal items removal, and final inspection before returning keys.

FAQs in Relation to Are Tenants Responsible for Cleaning When Moving Out

Are Tenants Responsible for Cleaning When Moving Out?

In general, tenants are responsible for leaving the rental unit in a clean condition, but the extent of the cleaning required can vary depending on the rental agreement and landlord-tenant laws of the state.

In Wisconsin, for example, a landlord can charge for cleaning if the tenant fails to leave the rental unit in a clean condition. The charges should be deducted from the security deposit and must be itemized in writing within 21 days after the tenant vacates. For more information, refer to Wisconsin Statute 704.

A tenant’s responsibilities typically include paying rent on time, maintaining cleanliness inside their rental unit, promptly reporting any maintenance issues or damages to their landlord, and adhering to lease terms such as noise restrictions and pet policies. More details can be found at HUD Tenant Rights.

It’s important to note that landlords also have responsibilities when it comes to maintaining a rental property. Landlords tend to be responsible for cleaning common areas and ensuring that the property is habitable. If a landlord doesn’t fulfill their responsibilities, tenants may have legal recourse.

When moving out of a rental property, tenants should aim to leave the unit in broom clean condition. This means that the unit should be swept or vacuumed, and all personal belongings should be removed. If the unit is excessively dirty, a deep clean may be necessary to avoid charges from the landlord. Hiring a cleaning company may be a good option in this case.

Ultimately, the best way to avoid disputes over move-out cleaning is to communicate clearly with the landlord or property management and to refer to the rental agreement for guidance.


Overall, tenants are responsible for cleaning when moving out of a rental property. This includes basic cleaning tasks such as vacuuming and wiping down surfaces, as well as more thorough cleaning like deep-cleaning carpets and scrubbing bathrooms. Still, there are certain duties landlords must carry out when preparing a rental for new occupants.

If you’re unsure about your specific responsibilities or would prefer to hire professional cleaners, there are options available. Just keep in mind that failing to properly clean could result in losing part or all of your security deposit.

Are you looking for assistance with your upcoming move? Make your move stress-free by connecting you with reliable movers and packers!

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