Am I Obligated To Clean My Apartment When Moving? | Homeer

Am I Obligated To Clean My Apartment When Moving?

Residential Cleaning

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At Homeer we often get asked if the person calling really needs to get an apartment cleaning. Not because they are hoping to skip out, but because they know we are genuinely here to answer any and all cleaning questions.

This question is constantly asked so today we are going to take that opportunity and dive into the details of what drives our perspective and advice.

Of course, you have blog posts from Apartments.com like this one, but let's be real. That doesn't answer a single question.

So today we are going to go through the moral of the decision. Before hearing our answer you will have enough information to decide to be happy with the decision. Alright time to move!

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    What does being morally obligated to clean mean

    Before we can really determine if you feel you are obligated to schedule an apartment cleaning we need to understand what that means.

    While researching the moral aspects of scheduling an apartment cleaning I stumbled upon a wonderful thread on ask.metafilter.com: How do I convince my roommate that we need a maid?

    This thread revolves around the idea of a roommate wanting his roommate to use a cleaning service on their move out date. But...

    He thinks it's lazy and morally objectionable to hire a maid. I think my free time is valuable so I don't want to spend it cleaning bathrooms.

    And as the owner of a cleaning company that has done over 1,000 apartment cleanings in my career, I can tell you that it is not morally objectionable to hire a maid.

    This question didn't remain unanswered long. This user by the name of invitapriore had the perfect response with:

    "Also, in an attempt to persuade him, you should remind him that modern civilization and commerce are basically founded upon the concept of opportunity costs as you said. Self-sufficiency is impractical when professionals who specialize in service are available to do tasks for you for less cost than you would 'pay' were you to do this for yourself. Put in such a large context, maybe he'll come around."

    "You might talk to him also about the fact that, since you have the money, you're really helping her out too, because she obviously wants the work. There's no reason to pass on a win-win deal."

    We must fully understand that scheduling a cleaning service is not a bad thing and is not representative of you or your lifestyle in any way. It is only a representation of the fact that you'd like to save some time and have a cleaner home. And now that we understand that, we can dive into determining if we think we are morally obligated to get an apartment cleaning when we move out.

    How can you have an opinion if you don't really know what we are talking about? Let me give you the information you need.

    To best understand the moral obligation we face when moving out of an apartment we need to know the real definition of "moral".

    Broken down to the fundamental core, moral means: "Conforming to standards of what is right or just in behavior; virtuous: a moral life."

    Now, I wish deciding if you feel obligated was that simple because some real caveats can make it hard to want to do the right thing. Let's continue on...

    Cleaning after moving all day sucks

    I moved on December 1st, 2020 the day before this post is published and I can tell you from first-hand experience. That has to be the worst moving out experience I've ever had. I had so much more stuff than I thought and it took me all day.

    Let me paint the picture quickly. I first moved to Lubbock, Texas for college. With a year left on my degree plan, I dropped out to follow my passion and grow my cleaning company. During that time, I amassed quite a collection of belongings without intending to. You can read more about that journey in the blog post: Lubbock Maids Rebrands To Become Homeer Cleaning Services.

    The sunsets are far better than the dust that comes with West Texas.

    Then, I moved to Midland, Texas to expand Homeer to service that area plus Odessa, Texas. Then, the lease on my Lubbock house comes to a conclusion and I'm so busy I have to wait until the literal last day to move out.

    Then, when I show up, my former roommate had left the home anything but clean or empty. On top of that, I am not the type of person that keeps belongings or decorations. So, prepared with zero boxes to pack items into, we started.

    This meant I had to:

    1. Get a U-Haul to minimize the number of trips.
    2. Collect all loose trash from all rooms.
    3. Collect all small pieces and separate them into a keep and trash pile.
    4. (Optional) Box the things you want to keep in the storage unit.
    5. Throw out all perishables.
    6. Disconnect all appliances. (Don't forget that you will likely need two sets of pliers and a screwdriver while moving.)
    7. Load all extremely heavy appliances. (Fridge, Washer, Dryer, Etc..)
    8. Get a storage unit.
    9. Unload the first load.
    10. Load all furniture. (I really enjoyed moving a dresser downstairs!)
    11. Unload the second load.
    12. (Mandatory) Take a break so that you can approach the end of this process with focus and energy.
    13. Do a thorough walkthrough of the house and check all areas for leftover things.
    14. Load all the keep piles and all clothing.
    15. Unload the third load.
    16. Load all trash that has been collected.
    17. Unload the fourth load.
    18. Return the U-Haul.
    19. Do a final walkthrough with your landlord.
    20. Turn off the internet.
    21. Turn in the keys and garage door openers.

    That is a ton of stuff to do! Especially if you plan on not having any help on your moving day. If you're moving while living in Texas, then that's an even larger task. It takes so long to drive anywhere in this state and that time will only get longer while you are driving an unfamiliar vehicle with your home packed up.

    When it was all said and done, along with having to get all of the extremely heavy appliances, we had to make three different trips to the storage unit before the house was even empty.

    I was so tired I could barely stand up. To say the least, moving had worn me down.

    Then, when it was all said and done the house was still super dirty! I looked at my friend and said:

    "Dude, screw cleaning this place I'm putting this on the schedule for tomorrow."

    Finally, we were finished and we drive back home to Midland, Texas. Today comes and the first thing I say to him:

    "I think I may have lost it if I had to clean all that after moving all day."

    Perhaps this aspect of the obligation is not of benefit to anyone but you.

    But, your future self will thank you an incredible amount for having schedule a move out cleaning service. The time and stress that it saves cannot be overstated. Knowing the house would be clean and that I wasn't the one having to do it was an amazing feeling and a massive weight off my shoulders.

    If we had to stay and clean after moving out we easily would have gotten home at 2 a.m. instead of 10 p.m.

    I don't know if we would have made it home. So, for this aspect: I believe you are absolutely morally obligated to schedule a cleaning service. There is not a single person alive that should deal with that stress that on moving-days alone.

    When it comes to moving, having the ability to imagine yourself days in the future is going to save you a lot of time in the long run.

    Lastly, just imagine if I would have had to clean the new place I was moving into as well. Without a cleaning service I would have had to clean the home I just moved out of. Plus, I would have had to clean the new home that I am moving into. There might have been holes in the walls of both places if I did not have a cleaning service to take care of all my cleaning needs. Between the two of us, we were so worn out that if we did clean, we would have done a lousy job.

    I cannot even imagine how much longer it would've taken us to pack, clean, clean, and unpack. What a major drain of time the cleaning would have been. Thank goodness for Homeer to come in and clean up our mess.

    This was just discussing moving out from our perspectives. Now, imagine being the people moving into our home we just packed up. If we did not schedule the move out cleaning and just left it, then they would be complaining and tired just like we were. Now, they will be able to move right in and not have to worry about how dirty the place is. There will be no need to have to clean before moving in.

    Can you see the mess mocking you as you move into what was supposed to be a clean home?

    Moving into a dirty home is the last thing you'd want to do

    Following the idea of the stress that comes with moving out of a dirty home, we need to consider the impact of moving into a dirty home can have. And that impact isn't just limited to your moving in day, but all days moving forward that you spend in your new home.

    We've written a full-length blog post on this topic here: Will a move in cleaning even make a difference?, but to save you some time I am going to summarize everything for you now.

    Essentially, it doesn't matter what type of home it is, if you are moving into a new home it needs to be cleaned before. Why? Let's find out.

    The odds are very high that your move-out day will go very similar to mine and that means not smooth.

    The last thing that you want to do is clean the home you're moving out of so do you think you will clean the home you're moving in? Likely not. Again, this is an aspect of consideration where if there was any moral obligation, it would only be to yourself.

    Let me break down the numbers so that it can be easier to understand.

    The average American spends four or more hours a week cleaning their home. Then when you consider the fact that this is a moving cleaning you will need to multiply your time estimate by three.

    That's not an exaggeration. That is exactly the formula we use at Homeer to determine how many team members we need to send to any move in or move out cleaning.

    So, you should really plan to spend a minimum of 12 hours cleaning your home when moving unless you have some professional cleaning training. To get every inch of your home clean. The crown-molding, the blinds, and tracks of the windows, inside of your appliances, the baseboards. They all have to be cleaned. And still, the list of things to clean goes on and on, but you can read more about the list and what you should be prepared for within our post: How to have a stressless moving out experience.

    Along with that study, they also found that only 26% of the surveyed population performed a deep-clean more often. That means it is very likely that the last time your baseboards and inside of appliances were cleaned, was a very long time ago.

    If you care about your mental or physical well-being, you are obligated to schedule a moving cleaning service for your apartment.

    Cleaning is one of the few investments that returns more than monetary changes.

    An investment in cleaning pays dividends

    The topic of a move-in cleaning being an investment has two parts.

    First, your landlord will be grateful that you have already had your home professionally cleaned.

    Secondly, you will be grateful you don't have to worry about any of your security depositing being withheld.

    In almost all times of renting a tenant is required to put a security deposit equivalent to at least one month's rent however sometimes it is the first and last months rent or some other small variation. Regardless of the actual price structure, your landlord does not have the right to withhold your security deposit for "normal wear and tear." According to Douglas Turner over at Turner Law:

    "For a landlord to withhold a tenant’s security deposit for normal wear and tear is a violation of the lease regardless of what the lease actually says on the subject."

    Now, this does vary slightly by state so you will want to make sure by checking the deposit deadline database.

    With all that being said, according to a study of one-thousand renters performed by Rents.com, twenty-six percent of rents have lost at least a portion of their security deposit throughout their time of renting. Of that twenty-six percent, thirty-six percent said that their landlord offered no explanation.

    But by having a professional cleaning service you can avoid that stress and concern. With a move-out cleaning for your apartment, you can rest easy knowing that your home is sparkling and that there is nothing your landlord could be upset about.

    Even if you don't schedule a cleaning service there are still a few things you can do...

    Go in with open eyes, open ears and clear expectations.

    Establish clear expectations from the beginning of your lease

    On the day of signing your lease, you will want to have a discussion about the things that are the landlord's responsibility and the things that are yours. In almost every scenario you will find a boilerplate list of things that are covered in your lease.

    Most often, the things to consider are:

    • Who takes care of the lawn/shovels the snow?

    • If something goes wrong with the heating, who do I call?

    • If something goes wrong with the water, who do I call?

    • Where can I find a water-shutoff key?

    • Am I allowed to paint walls and do I need to re-paint them when moving out?

    • Is there a specific type of lightbulb and wattage that you prefer to be used?

    Now, there are a lot more questions than you could ask. But, those are the questions that you should ask. Solely speaking from experience, those are the things that our clients at Homeer have been most caught-off-guard by.

    Especially when you consider the fact that you could be fined by the city for not meeting one of their expectations!

    The final step to establishing clear expectations is talking to your landlord before your move-out date. This way you can have a conversation and make sure that you don't forget anything that you allow for you to receive your entire security deposit back upon moving out.

    It is always better safe than sorry and that holds to be extremely true during the moving process.

    These are not notes that you are going to want to throw away or lose anytime soon.

    Document the property upon completion of moving in and moving out

    Typically it's the first step of any new home you move into, but you will always want to have and turn in a list of anything that is damaged before you've moved in. This way you and your landlord can identify the damage that was present in the house before you arrived without the concern of it falling back onto when the time to move outcomes. You will want to make sure and document things like:

    • Are there any stains on the carpet?

    • Are there any marks on the wall?

    • Is there anything that is chipped, poorly painted, or broken?

    • Are there any hard-water spots on fixtures or areas near water?

    • Are the appliances functioning and in good condition?

    • Are the yard and fence in good shape?

    • Does the toilet have any rings or signs of age?

    • Does the water drain in all areas?

    • Are all of the blinds/shutters fully functional and in good condition?

    • Does the heater and air conditioner work?

    • Does the water heater work?

    • Do all of the windows properly seat and close?

    • Do all the locks function properly?

    • Do all the doorknobs turn smoothly and sit properly?

    You may be writing these down on a list, but as you make the list you should also be taking a picture and putting it in an album/folder that you know won't get accidentally deleted or forgotten. Personally, I just make a new album on my phone and name it 'Lubbock Home' with the city name replaced.

    Although many create a list, in the beginning, few keep a running list of things that have been broken, replaced, or removed and that creates issues. By keeping a list of anything that occurs to the house during your time of living there you can make sure that your landlord doesn't experience any surprises when you turn in your home.

    When it comes to modifications in your apartment it is always better safe than sorry.

    Keep written documentation/permission of any modifications or improvements

    Every now and then there are things you will want or need to change in the home you are renting. With that, we have two options:

    1. Contact your landlord and request assistance.
    2. Get authorization to make the modifications from your landlord and notify them of all changes upon completion.

    Doing one of these two things will save you a ton of headache and stress. By choosing one of the options you will always know that your landlord is up-to-date with the condition of your home and you have nothing to worry about if something breaks.

    For example, my landlord said they were responsible for plumbing. Then the seal in my bathroom toilet went bad and I knew how to fix that. Instead of having them spend the money to bring someone out to fix that I just purchased the part and sent them the receipt along with a picture and documentation of the change. Once that was sent I saved it to my album and continued on with my day!

    You may live in a house for years and never need a single maintenance request. But, you may also be there for two days and already have five things that need to be fixed or changed. It happens and the requirements will change depending on the home you're moving into.

    Things will always work best while renting if you over-communicate. I promise you aren't going to annoy your landlord when you are saving them time and money!

    Pets are an absolutely joy but we have to clean up after them.

    Remove any sign of pets

    As the owner of a Corgi named Scooter, it's common for my home to get dirty. Thankfully, I've never had a pet while renting, but many do and you must clean up after them.

    Having pets is a wonderful thing, but it could not be of any higher significance that you immediately remove any signs of wear and tear as they occur.

    Personally, I recommend that even if your pet never went to the restroom on your flooring: that you have your floors professionally cleaned. That includes the tile but is most impactful on the carpet. With a professional carpet cleaning, you will not only remove all of the smells that have been created but also all of the stains and marks. This is easily one of the highest impact things you can do while moving out.

    When scheduling a carpet cleaning though you should have it planned for after your home has been cleaned. This way, once the carpets have been cleaned there is absolutely nothing left that could be cleaned or improved in your home beyond the repairs that the landlord is responsible for.

    Plus, a carpet cleaning will make sure the carpet isn't padded down and doesn't have fur embedded into it. So, when your landlord walks into your home they are going to be shocked to see a home that looks just like it did the day you moved in.

    The expectations are generally low when moving out due to poor previous experience, but aren't we morally obligated to return their property the way we received it?

    It's our moral obligation to clean the messes instead of handing them off to someone else, right?

    This may be one of the only times that having a contract makes a decision easier.

    Being contractually bound makes this easy

    All this to be said and still, there is one massive exception. If it is in your lease that you are expected to get a cleaning service upon moving out, you are obligated to get a cleaning service.

    The thought of doing it yourself may cross your mind and I cannot blame you. Moving is an expensive day, to begin with, but it is expensive on more than your wallet. The day of moving is also extremely expensive to your body. The toll moving takes on your body cannot and should not be taken lightly.

    So, even if you think you may not want a professional cleaning service. You will thank yourself at the end of the moving day when you can leave your home dirty because you know it will be taken care of.

    You're obligated to take care of yourself and you can do that by saving yourself more than twelve hours of cleaning and scheduling a cleaning service.

    Now if you're worried about finding a cleaning service that will take care of all that, don't be. Just the other day we wrote this blog post: How To Find The Best Move-In Cleaning Service that covers every single aspect of the search! Really, it leaves no question unanswered.

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