Tenant Reader Question
I realize your site is directed towards landlords, but I have a tenant question for you.
I have recently moved into a semi-detached house rental, and the place is filthy. When we first visited the rental we thought it looked all right, but after the previous tenant moved out, and we moved in, we became aware of a lot of gross crap (like cat pee, human hair, inches of dust everywhere, and food crusted on carpets and cupboards). Our landlord never closed with the previous tenant, the tenant didn’t keep contact, and almost didn’t give up our keys. They didn’t even do a walk through with us – we were given the keys and they left for vacation. Now I’ve cleaned my hardest, but I expect compensation; cleaning up the previous tenant’s mess can’t be my responsibility, can it? I’ve looked at the Landlord and Tenant Board Act and can’t find any information about this problem. Any help or advice would be appreciated!
First off, I’m not even close to Molly Maid but every time I ever moved into an apartment I had to clean it before I moved in. It’s not because it was dirty, it’s because it’s not really clean until I know it’s clean which is after I had cleaned it. In the process of this cleaning I always found other people’s grime and was disgusted by their habits. This was after a professional clean. The cleaning lady being paid $60 to clean is just not that invested in cleaning the back of the toilet where all the sticky filth really lives.
As a manager, I’ve the above complaint about a hundred times. Every time someone who is a relatively clean person moves into an apartment the above scenario happens. In your case, it’s an order of magnitude worse because you had what we call a back to back tenancy. Even if the owner wanted to…which it doesn’t sound like they cared that much, they would have struggled to find someone to clean in the very short timeline between the other tenant moving out and you moving in. You found out the hard way that even people look clean and actually are relatively clean, there’s a lot of dirt. Those dust bunnies do not clean themselves.
It sounds like you are really upset about the situation because I’m not sure the expectation was set by the landlord that when the old tenant moved out there might be some challenges. This is actually normal in this situation. While it is the landlord’s responsibility to clean in your case, it did look clean enough until further inspection, it’s only when you started cleaning that you realized how filthy it was. Again normal even if cleaned by a professional first.
Now as to the Landlord & Tenant Board my advice to you is to stop consulting them on every minor issue. First of all the call center reps are completely clueless when it comes to the actual application of the laws. When you start saying Landlord & Tenant Board to your landlord, they either fear you or get annoyed with you. The Landlord & Tenant Board is supposed to the last step but too many tenants start there over what are minor inconveniences.
Can you imagine if every time you had a fight with your boyfriend he called Divorce court and started threats of lawsuits? My personal experience in business is that if I have to consult a lawyer when doing business with you, your business is not worth the hassle. So while you certainly might consult the Landlord & Tenant Board about issues, it’s not wise to bring it up to your landlord. It will immediately set the relationship you have with them on the wrong foot.
Having said that… I would talk to or email the landlord and tell her that you feel that the cleaning job left behind by the other tenants was more than you consider fair and that because you’re so awesome they should get you a gift card from the LCBO to wipe all cleaning thoughts away from your brain. If you approach it in this manner you are more likely to get what you want. Frankly the landlord had no way of knowing it would be so bad when the other tenant moved and still doesn’t know. When you talk about compensation you have to realize that at most it would cost the landlord about $100 to clean the place. So I ask you, even if you don’t like the response your landlord gives you, is it worth $100 to forever impact your relationship with your landlord? No one takes legal threats well.
I hope this helps…