Rental Cleanliness and Curb Appeal

by : Don Conrad

If there was only one thing that you as a landlord could do to guarantee you have your fair share of quality tenant choices, it is to make your dwelling as clean and eye appealing as possible. Tenants like clean. Tenants want clean. And quality tenants will pay for clean. (Quality tenants expect other things too. Go to my website at to find out what).

Offering a rental that is cleaner, with more eye appeal than your competition, will often be the edge you need to find quality tenants. This image begins with what is referred to in the industry as curb appeal. Simply stated, curb appeal is how the property looks from the street.


To achieve good curb appeal, I highly recommend spending a little extra preparation time on the front of the house. Start with the yard. Cut back low-lying branches. Trim the bushes. Put in some hostas or easy to manage seasonal bushes. Edge them out and spread a little mulch around. Pick up loose trash and pull the weeds, especially in the cracks of the driveway and sidewalks. Take time to grow grass in the bare spots in the yard. Mow the lawn.

On the house itself, start by washing down the exterior. If the house looks drab, splash on some color by adding shutters to the facade. The easy-to-install shutters sold at most discount/hardware stores are inexpensive and will change the look of your rental with a minimal amount of effort. If, after you add shutters, you still wish to add more pizzazz to the dwelling, paint the front door the same color as the shutters. To finish off the look of the house, add a decorative flag or classy lawn ornament to give the place a little character.

When you are done, step to the curb and look at your property as a whole. What you see is what the tenants will see. The very first thing they will see. Will they be impressed, or will they walk away?


Cleanliness inside the home is also extremely important. Nobody wants to begin living in their new home surrounded by someone else's filth. For this reason, everything needs to look, smell, and feel clean. Begin by making sure all walls, ceilings, and trim work is freshly painted, void of holes, and free of cobwebs. Non-carpeted floors should be swept, mopped, and polished.

Carpeted areas should be professionally cleaned between each and every tenant, no matter how short their tenancy was. Carpets hold dust mites, odors, and about every other germ imaginable. Parents hate the thought of their kids rolling around on someone else's germ-infested carpet.

I know that many landlords have their own carpet cleaning machines and prefer to take on this task themselves, therefore pocketing the savings. I tried this too but was very unhappy with the results. It was a lot of work and I never seemed to get out the stains and dirt like the pros could. I mean, let's face it: they have better equipment and superior knowledge to attack stains and other problems. For these reasons, I recommend you use professional carpet cleaners.

.As you can probably guess, in addition to cleaning carpet, walls, and trims, extra effort should be used in preparation of the kitchen and bathrooms. These rooms can make or break how your house rates on someone's clean-o-meter. Dirty kitchens and baths give tenant prospects illusions of germ infested environments and unhealthy living. Substandard cleanliness in these two areas is the surest way to lose potential quality tenants. Thoroughly clean the kitchen and baths and if you have any doubts that they are clean enough, clean them again. If the thought of cleaning other people's messes repulses you, hire it out.

While you are cleaning the house for display, don't forget those often overlooked, neglected areas: ceiling fan blades and lights, fingerprints around doorknobs and light switches, all vents and grills, behind and underneath appliances, mirrors, windows, window sills, and any other place you would normally forget to clean.

Another thought to remember is when landlords prepare their dwellings for rent, they generally concentrate on the visual aspect of the task. Most people fail to remember that the sense of smell is a very powerful sense, especially in women. I recommend you remove all possible sources of unpleasant odors days in advance of the first showing. It would probably be worth the effort of placing a couple of air fresheners around the dwelling. Try using the kind you plug into an outlet, which slowly release an attractive smell for up to a month at a time. The key to success is to have the place smell nice before a single tenant prospect walks though the door.

I know that cleaning a rental to the standards I recommend can be a lot of work. Personally, I dislike it so much I hire it out. Even so, I know for a fact that I consistently rent my dwellings for above market rents, to quality tenants, and I'm sure it is because they always have superb curb appeal and are extra clean. Please, take my advice; Go Clean!