Can my landlord tell me not to be messy?

By Tenant

One of the provisions in the lease agreement is that the tenant must take care of the apartment and keep it clean. By signing the lease agreement, that means you agree to all the provisions included in the document. So by keeping the apartment clean, does that mean it has to be spotless too?

Here are some of the more popular answers to this question:

–          Keeping the apartment spotless is different from keeping it clean. You can have piles of books or clothes everywhere but that doesn’t mean the place is dirty. Basically, the lease agreement tells you to keep the place habitable.

What makes an apartment too dirty to become uninhabitable? Here are some examples:

  • Dried food and dirty dishes piled on the sink
  • The bathtub, countertops, stove and sink are already black with dirt
  • A smell of trash and dirty dishes is all over the apartment
  • The floor hasn’t been washed
  • The carpet hasn’t been vacuumed for months

–          There’s a big difference between messy and destroying the property. So if you’ve been punching walls and breaking things, you’re not just messing things up you’re also destroying the property.

–          Live how you please, anyway you are paying your rent. Just make sure that you don’t create any health issues that might affect your other neighbors. Also, make sure that you clean the apartment or have it professionally cleaned by the time you move out.


Can my landlord do mess inspections?

Well, your landlord can legally do inspections as long as there 24-hour notices are sent out. He can come in to check on smoke detectors, plumbing, windows, cracks and so on. There are landlords that are very proactive when it comes to inspections because they don’t want any minor repair and become major.

Mess inspections could be health inspections if there were complaints coming from your neighbors about smell or rodents coming from your apartment. You would need to check your lease agreement and your state tenant laws regarding mess inspections.

When should you file a complaint?

You need to file for a complaint against your landlord if you experience any or all of the following:

  • The landlord forces you to pick your things up. He’s your landlord, not your mother. As long as you do not damage the rental property, you should be fine.
  • Your landlord evicts you for being messy. (This has to be stated in the lease agreement or in the state tenant laws to be legal)
  • If your landlord enters your property without a 24-hour notice and it’s not an emergency.

You can file your complaint with the RPA by filling out the form found in this link:

Edited on: Wednesday, February 27th, 2013 9:45 pm

15 Responses to “Can my landlord tell me not to be messy?”

My response: (We welcome stories, examples, explanations, answers and a touch of your personality)


February 27th, 2013 10:00 pm

Any lease agreement would say that you must return the property in almost the same condition that it was in when you moved in. So it won’t really matter what happens in between the contract as long as you return the apartment the way it was.


February 28th, 2013 10:20 am

Can’t you leave about 10-20 minutes off your day to do some cleaning? I think that won?t hurt you that much.


February 28th, 2013 10:40 pm

If it’s a multi-family propertym, cleanliness is a must. This is because you don’t want to invite roaches and other pests that will definitely affect all your adjoining units. If there are books or things that are stacked, make sure they are not fire hazardous and they must not restrict the access to repairs, should there be the need to.


March 1st, 2013 11:20 am

I would agree with this. As the landlord, whatever happens to the property is still my responsibility. Sure, I can charge the tenant fees and I can evict him but at the end of the time, cleaning up will still be left on me.


March 2nd, 2013 12:00 am

Simply put, if your housekeeping is not inviting infestation, preventing normal maintenance and even damaging the property, then your landlord wouldn’t have a problem with it.


March 2nd, 2013 12:22 pm

If it’s already causing a health issue, then you could get evicted so it’s best to clean up.


March 3rd, 2013 1:00 am

Why are things piled up everywhere? Is it because you don’t have enough storage spaces? If you can’t afford to buy cabinets, you can just buy boxes for storage.


March 3rd, 2013 1:20 pm

If you’re just disorganized then that’s fine. But if you have neglected to clean a spot in the carpet and then the stain becomes permanent or you didn’t clean the shower so dirt has already accumulated then that’s soemthing else and you could be charged for these damages.


March 4th, 2013 2:00 am

Things change when you’re on section 8 because these guys do their own inspection. And I’ve seen section 8 tenants getting notices to remedy their messy apartments; otherwise, they will be taken off the program due to violation of their guidelines.


March 4th, 2013 2:40 pm

I think it’s best if you clean up after youself instead of waiting for all the possible bad things to happen.


March 5th, 2013 3:20 am

Don’t worry about your landlord. Fire and Insurance companies also do random inspections so your mess could be a problem to them.


March 5th, 2013 3:40 pm

Check your lease agreement and you state tenant laws to see if you’re in violation of anything.


March 6th, 2013 4:00 am

The bottomline here is that as long as the apartment is not permanently scarred for your actions, you should be free from liabilities.


March 6th, 2013 4:20 pm

There are definitely a lot of things to consider when you’re just being messy. It might as well be better to just clean up – even though it’s just once a week.


March 7th, 2013 5:00 am

What bothers me the most is that landlords cannot do mess inspections. They can only inspect your property for damages and if there are repairs that need to be done.


Yes, the RPA® Can Help You!

Filing an official complaint is the nation's fastest way to solve tenant problems.

Not Ready? Learn more...

Virginia Complaint Filling Deadline  Tips/Suggestion

Need Help Filing Your Complaint?

Agents Available Mon- Fri 10am to 10pm

Recently Resolved Complaints:

See how the Nation's Rental Authority has helped thousands of tenants already!

Ask Question:

Post a new question to the RPA Tenants rights forum.

You Have Tenant Rights.
Recently Posted Questions:

Over 4,000 questions have been asked by tenants including these new posts:

Tenant Rights Categories

Popular categories about renters rights.