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Preparing Empty Rentals for New Tenants: Cleaning Allergens and Previous Damage

Posted January 21, 2023 by Mike Lewis under Tips

Preparing Empty Rentals for New Tenants: Cleaning Allergens and Previous Damage


Preparing a rental property for new tenants is one of the most important responsibilities of any landlord. Thoroughly cleaning and repairing a vacant unit before move-in can prevent issues down the road and help attract quality, long-term renters. As a landlord, I take preparing rentals for new tenants very seriously. In this comprehensive guide, I will outline my process for getting a rental move-in ready, with a focus on deep cleaning allergens and fixing previous tenant damage.

Inspect and Create a Repair List

The first step is always carefully inspecting the entire vacant unit and grounds. I walk through methodically, room by room, to identify any issues left behind by the previous tenants or problems that have developed over time. This includes:

Damage to Walls, Floors, and Fixtures

  • Are there any holes, scratches, stains, or other damage on the walls that need patching and paint?
  • Do any of the floorboards, tiles, or carpets need repair or replacement?
  • Are all the fixtures, outlets, and plumbing in good working order?

General Cleanliness of All Areas

  • Is there dust, dirt, and grime buildup throughout that requires deep cleaning?
  • Do the kitchen and bathroom need sanitizing and disinfecting?
  • Do the windows need washing inside and out?

Outdoors and Landscaping

  • Does the lawn need mowing, new sod, or re-seeding?
  • Do any bushes, trees, or flowerbeds need trimming or tending?
  • Is there garbage left behind that needs hauling away?

I take extensive notes on each issue identified and use this repair checklist to guide the preparation process. Having a detailed list ensures every necessary task gets completed before the new tenants move in.

Deep Clean from Top to Bottom

Once I have inspected the property and created my repair list, deep cleaning the entire unit is next on my checklist. Thoroughly sanitizing a vacant rental gets rid of allergens and leaves the space fresh for new tenants. Here are the cleaning tasks I complete:

Wash Walls, Baseboards, and Window Sills

  • Use a mild soap and water solution with a soft sponge to clean walls and baseboards
  • Carefully wipe down window sills and tracks to remove dirt and dust buildup

Clean All Flooring Surfaces

  • Vacuum and mop tile, vinyl, and wood floors
  • Shampoo carpets and rugs to lift stains, allergens, and odors
  • Disinfect garage and patio floors with a strong cleaner

Scrub the Bathrooms

  • Clean tile, tub, shower, sinks with a bathroom disinfectant cleaner
  • De-scale fixtures and shine mirrors, chrome, and glass
  • Sanitize the toilet inside and out

Disinfect Kitchen Appliances and Surfaces

  • Wash the inside and outside of refrigerator and oven
  • De-grease and sanitize countertops, cabinets, sink, and floor
  • Remove built-up grime from the stove top and hood vent

Dust Light Fixtures, Ceiling Fans, and AC Vents

  • Use a microfiber duster to clean fans, sconces, and overhead lights
  • Vacuum AC and heating vents to remove dust and pet hair

Fix Damage from Previous Tenants

After deep cleaning, it’s time to fix any damage left behind by the last occupants. Addressing issues like wall damage, carpet stains, and landscaping problems makes the unit feel fresh and new for incoming renters. Here are some typical repairs I complete:

Patch Holes, Prime, and Paint

  • Use spackle to patch small holes and dents in drywall
  • Skim coat larger damaged wall sections before priming
  • Apply fresh coats of neutral interior paint

Remove Stains and Discoloration from Carpeting

  • Try enzyme carpet cleaners first to lift set-in stains
  • Shampoo or steam clean carpets if needed
  • Replace carpeting that is beyond cleaning

Fix Chipped or DamagedTiles

  • Regrout tiles that are intact but have missing grout
  • Replace cracked, broken, or loose tiles as needed

Make Exterior Repairs

  • Re-sod dead spots and fill in bare patches in the lawn
  • Prune overgrown trees and bushes
  • Refresh exterior paint if needed

Perform Routine Maintenance and Checks

The final step in preparing a rental for new tenants is completing routine maintenance tasks and inspections. This ensures all building systems and appliances are functioning properly upon move-in.

Inspect HVAC and Plumbing

  • Hire an HVAC technician to service the furnace, AC, and vents
  • Check pipes and supply lines for leaks and adequate water flow

Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

  • Replace batteries in all detectors
  • Install new detectors if any are missing or expired

Replace Air Filters

  • Swap out old air filters in the HVAC system
  • Use high-quality pleated filters for better air quality

Check for Pest Issues

  • Inspect carefully for signs of mice, cockroaches, spiders, etc.
  • Schedule exterminator service if any pests are found

Following this comprehensive process ensures my rentals are thoroughly cleaned, repaired, and maintenance is up-to-date before new tenants get the keys. A move-in ready unit helps new renters feel happy and secure in their new home.


Preparing empty rental units for incoming tenants is a core responsibility for landlords. By methodically inspecting, deep cleaning, repairing damage, and performing routine maintenance, I make sure my properties are fresh, safe, and in top condition when new renters move in. The time invested upfront prevents issues down the road and leads to more satisfied long-term tenants. With this process, I can confidently hand over the keys knowing a rental is truly move-in ready.

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