Poor housekeeping by a tenant can cause safety hazards for the tenant and other tenants.
Writing a tenant a letter about poor housekeeping is for documentation purposes for the landlord.
If a landlord has to evict a tenant, it’s good to have all emails and documents handy.
Renting is big business, and for landlords, it can get ugly when tenants don’t follow their tenant’s agreement.
Today I want to talk about a few things pertaining only to the tenant and landlord.
- What is poor housekeeping?
- Reading the rental agreenment before signing it
- How you can clean your rental unit to bring it up to the standards in the Ontario Tenants Act. and your signed rental agreement.
The landlord has responsibilities, but the Ontario Tenants’ Act is massive and certainly a topic for another blog post.
Buying A Home With Intentions To Have Tenants
With the housing price, potential buyers are looking for homes with a rental unit or the possibility to create one.
Mortgage rates are low, and buyers will max out what the bank allows them to borrow if they can find a home with a rental unit.
I believe inexperienced buyers have dreams of the perfect tenant paying off all or part of their mortgage.
I’d never relied on a renter to pay a portion of my mortgage ever.
It’s not until the homeowner rents a room or legal basement apartment in the home they live in that they realize it might not work out.
There are great renters and those that pretend to be to find a place to live.
An essential lesson for landlords is to do reference calls, thorough rental agreements and have the tenant read it in full and sign it.
Rental Insurance Is A Must
Also, remind the tenant that they need renters insurance if it’s a legal apartment or building.
Before you rent part of your house, make sure that you have a proper lease agreement in place. Ontario has a standard lease agreement that you are required to use. Make sure to insist, in the lease agreement, that the tenant carry liability insurance for the unit. Your home insurance policy may demand it.Michelle and Whale Insurance
There should be no reason for poor housekeeping apart from not being physically or mentally unable to do so.
Even then, someone should be assisting a tenant, or perhaps there are free local services for seniors or those with disabilities available.
For example, with Mrs. CBB’s disability, I have to do many chores around the house because she cannot.
What Is Poor Housekeeping?
That’s a great question because everyone has their way of keeping their living quarters tidy.
Both of our parents had rentals when we were younger, and just recently, my parents sold the last one.
As a tenant, I’m sure the landlord wants you to keep their investment to good standards.
We live in a University city in Ontario and come July, and the curbs are full of furniture.
A friend of ours who is a landlord says some of his rentals are disgusting when a tenant moves out.
Poor housekeeping is not so much about whether you made your bed or have pots soaking in the sink.
Landlords get fussy, especially when other tenants make phone calls about what they smell, hear and see.
You might come to learn that your tenant is a hoarder with bad smells, mice and bugs crawling in the unit.
Perhaps there was a no-smoking clause in the rental agreement, yet all you can smell is smoke, and the walls are yellow.
The moment a landlord enters a unit, room or basement they are renting, it’s hard to envision anything but what it originally was.
For example, if you have a dog and allow it in the house instead of walking the pet to do its business. Even worse, leaving it there and not picking it up.
Sad to say that this is a true story that Mrs. CBB’s parents had discovered in their rental home.
The tenant had two large dogs, and he used one of the three bedrooms for the dogs to do their business.
Sadly the room had poo in every corner, which she was aware of from his concerned friend.
Unfortunately, as an inexperienced landlord, Mrs. CBB’s mother wasn’t sure what to do apart from writing the tenant a letter.
She has a heart of gold and never likes to see people on the streets or in a financial pinch.
At the same time, that’s the family investment home, and she has to protect it.
Working Poor Housekeeping Habits Out With Your Tenant
Guess what? The tenant went to see her mother, apologized for the mess, and said he would clean it up.
He took full responsibility and explained that his father had passed away and depression had set in.
As an understanding mother, she asked if he needed any help, and he declined as he was doing it himself.
She also asked him if there was anything else inside that needed attention that she was unaware of.
He said no as he enjoys cleaning but taking the dogs for a walk was hard as he couldn’t leave the house apart from going to work.
Mrs. CBB’s mom helped him find local dog walkers that could help and work within his budget.
Luckily he did, and they would come around twice a day to walk them for 20 minutes.
Jumping the gun and accusing a renter of poor housekeeping could uncover other personal issues.
All she did was write a polite letter about the rental agreement he signed to keep the inside clean.
Poor Housekeeping and Tenants’ Responsibilities
In the Ontario Tenants Act, tenants have responsibilities that they must adhere to
Poor housekeeping can trigger problems, whether you rent a house, basement apartment, or a rental unit.
You have the Ontario Tenants Act and the rental agreement to abide by once you sign it.
It’s always critical to read any agreement or document you are about to sign, so you understand it fully.
Don’t let anyone say it’s just basic stuff you don’t need to read because you always should.
We had previously rented rooms in our home, and only two of the three had poor housekeeping skills.
There was a room rental agreement they both signed to keep shared spaces clean, along with their room and bathroom.
If you cook, clean up all of your mess and leave no dishes in the sink. Simple enough.
For the bathroom, we provided cleaning supplies so they could clean the bathroom they exclusively used.
Room Rental And Poor Housekeeping Safety Hazards
Below is a bit about each one of our tenants and what we found.
- Tenant A – He was smoking weed in his room and lighting incence to cover the smell. Since we use insence in our home he figured we wouldn’t smell the weed. No smoking in the room or house was on the rental agreement. We were smokers at the time but only ever smoked outside so we were upset.
- Tenant B – We needed entry into her room for an emergency repair to the furnace as it was winter. She wasn’t home but gave us permission to go in. There were clothes EVERYWHERE on the floor around the bed and over the vent. She didn’t last long since cleaning wasn’t her thing.
Both tenants were university students, and we were amazed how much they didn’t care about our home.
Our family home is our sanctuary that we take pride, in and it didn’t matter one bit.
You know what? Many tenants don’t, and if you get fantastic tenants, you’re fortunate.
I had to ask the young man if he was allowed to smoke pot in his parent’s house, and he said no.
Then why are you doing it here? He just shrugged his shoulders, packed up and moved out.
The school year had ended, and his father picked him up, packed his bags in the car and left.
Finding Good Tenants
As you may have read on the blog, we also rented a basement room for two years to save money.
While renting, our room was always kept clean, and I made the bed every morning.
We also had the responsibility of keeping our bathroom and refrigerator clean.
Often our landlord would tell us she was coming into the room to repair something or another.
We were okay with that as I cleaned the room daily while I wasn’t working.
Landlords also have to deal with other tenants who cannot talk to their neighbours about the state of their home out of fear.
Below there is a quote that is taken from the Residential Tenancies Act Part IV.
Tenant’s responsibility for cleanliness
33. The tenant is responsible for the ordinary cleanliness of the rental unit, except to the extent that the tenancy agreement requires the landlord to clean it. 2006, c. 17, s. 33.
Tenant’s responsibility for repair of damage
34. The tenant is responsible for repairing undue damage to the rental unit or residential complex caused by the wilful or negligent conduct of the tenant, another occupant of the rental unit or a person permitted in the residential complex by the tenant. 2006, c. 17, s. 34.
Help For Tenants With Poor Housekeeping
We no longer rent rooms in our house, but most landlords want to help tenants and give them options.
No one wants to see someone left homeless, so it’s time to talk once the landlord writes a poor housekeeping letter to the tenant.
Meeting The Tenant About The Poor Housekeeping Letter
Having a set time to meet with the landlord to discuss the rental state should happen next.
During the meeting, you can agree on keeping the rental unit clean to control rodents, bugs, and smells.
The landlord should document everything agreed upon, signed and dated with a timeline.
Like my mother-in-law, you may offer to help them get the space back to a clean state.
Offer the tenant local housekeeping services with phone numbers to call for help.
Call around for various organizations that help people struggling financially or unable to care for their homes.
We did this when my mother-in-law was at her worst and before she moved to long-term care.
It wasn’t the inside of the house she needed help with but the gardening and upkeep of the property.
She was not renting as she owned the home. However, we found a local volunteer service that would help for free.
Some fantastic people volunteer their time and will help people in their community.
Make phone calls or network with friends and family to see if your community has such services.
As well, offer your tenant a cleaning schedule that can be printed and put on a refrigerator door.
Some people, like myself, work better when it comes to seeing what they have to accomplish.
Using a list may be the trick they need, along with motivation which is the hardest part.
How To Write A Poor Housekeeping Letter To A Tenant
Writing a letter to a tenant about poor housekeeping should not be stressful as you are the owner.
Most tenants want to work something out, and perhaps you’ll learn about what the problem might be.
If the tenant is not returning calls or wanting to work things out, including a rental inspection, the landlord will move to the next step. Eviction is never something a landlord enjoys or wants to do.
Remember that a clean rental doesn’t mean messy it means safety issues, hazards and potential for rodents, bugs and damage.
Below is a screenshot of the free sample letter that you can download as a pdf or word document.
When Tenants Ignore A Poor Housekeeping Letter
Yes, you can get evicted in the winter, so this is important to know if you’ve received an eviction notice.
If the tenant does not want to reply to the landlord who writes a poor housekeeping letter, it worsens.
Damage to a rental can be costly, whether unclean, safety hazards, ants and bugs from food on the floors and counters to disgusting bathrooms and animal feces and urine.
Ontario Tenants Act Says…
A landlord who wants a tenant out can do many things to get an eviction notice, especially when safety is an issue.
- Section 62 on damage says if you, other residents of your unit or your guests wilfully or negligently causes undue damage to your apartment, the building or property you can be evicted. The notice of termination of your lease must state how you can remedy the situation and thereby prevent the eviction; Section 63 may also apply;
- If you, other residents of your unit or your guest “substantially interferes” with the reasonable enjoyment of the building for other tenants as per Section 64 or in the case of a building with 3 units or less where the landlord also resides under Section 65;
- Animals can be a reason for eviction if the Landlord and Tenant Board is convinced that the tenant is keeping an animal and that the animal(s) is substantially interfering with the reasonable enjoyment of the premises, causes allergic reactions, or is inherently dangerous to safety.
There are other grounds for eviction, such as if the landlord personally needs the apartment to live in, demolishing the building, converting the building (such as to a condominium) or doing such significant repairs or renovations that they need your unit vacated. Unscrupulous landlords could falsely use these other situations as an excuse for eviction.
You can read the full details of the Ontario Landlords and Tenants Act for more information.
As a tenant, it’s probably best to read the letter and work with your landlord to solve the issues.
Discussion: Have you ever had to deal with a tenant who had poor housekeeping? Did you write them a letter, give notice for a rental inspection or talk to the tenant? What was the outcome? Also, if you were a tenant that did get evicted, what was the reason?
Please leave me your comments or experiences below for others to read as well as myself.