What to Do When Tenants Leave Units Dirty

Jon Fesmire |

While some surprises are nice, such as discovering that your box wholesaler has a deal that will save your storage facility money, many surprises are unwelcome.Now and then, when a tenant moves out, you’ll get an unpleasant surprise: they’ve left a mess.

Now, if it’s just bits of cardboard and dust, that’s not such a big deal. You sweep up and the unit is ready to be rented to someone else. Unfortunately, it could mean a big mess, or even abandoned items.

Most tenants do a great job of cleaning out their units when moving out, but what can you do about those who don’t?

Checking Your Contract

The standard contract for units in you facility is already filled with many rules that your tenants must follow. This includes rules about what they can and can’t store, rules against loitering, and so on.

Make sure that it also includes rules for what happens if they leave things behind when they move out, or if they otherwise leave their former unit a mess.

Modifying Your Lease Agreement

In order to give tenants incentive to completely clean their units when moving out, modify your lease agreement to include actions that the facility can take.

For example, the contact may state that any items left after the tenant’s move-out date are subject to auction or disposal, and that the tenant will be charged a $250 clean-up fee. Charge what is fair in your area.

The Work

With that handled, anyone who signs up for a unit is subject to the new conditions. The next time someone moves out and leaves items behind, you can dispose of them or auction them, and bill that tenant for the time it takes the company to clean the unit.

We recommend you make an exception to the disposal or auction rule for certain items. If you find important paperwork left behind, such as tax documents, medical records, birth certificates, and so on, hold onto those and let the tenant know you want to return them. Basically, anything you wouldn’t include in an auction, or would ask an auction winner to return, belong in the category of things to return to the tenant. It’s certainly annoying when tenants leave things behind, but now, you should have no difficulty dealing with this problem.