The time has come: you’re thinking about selling your rental property. Perhaps you and your rental had a long run, or maybe it was an experiment you tried. Or maybe you’re moving on to greener pastures, taking all that hard-won landlord knowledge to new investments in new places.

No matter your reasons for selling your rental, there’s one thing you and every other seller has in common: You want to get a good price for the house. Whether it’s a single-family home, townhome, condo, duplex or any other setup, you need it to look its best.

That means cleaning it outright. No half-measures here; we’re talking a full, top-to-bottom decluttering, dusting, scrubbing and sprucing.

The Ultimate Rental Property Clean Out Checklist

That’s where the ultimate rental property clean out checklist comes in. We’ve gathered up seven of the smartest not-necessarily-intuitive ideas out there, to help you do this thing right the first time around. Let’s get started.

1. Give Your Tenants Notice Immediately

If you’re thinking of selling, it’s time to let your tenants know now. That means giving them plenty of notice about the termination of their lease, both to keep yourself out of hot water and to make sure you have lots of time to clean before the sale. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you have an offer to give renters the boot, or you might lose the sale.

This is also a good time to upgrade your rental agreements from insufficient one-page documents to more robust leases.

2. Remove Everything They Left Behind

Selling Your Rental Property? The Ultimate Clean Out Checklist |Small objects tend to accumulate anywhere someone has lived for a while.

If you properly screened your tenant before they moved in, then most likely they left your property in decent condition. Even the best of us leave items behind unintentionally, however, and it’s important to get them out before prospective buyers view the place, or at least by the time the new owners arrive. Overall, this is a simple task, but make sure to check little nooks and crannies such as:

  • Inside heating vents
  • Behind built-in drawers in kitchens and bathrooms
  • At the backs of high cupboard shelves
  • Behind appliances

This step takes less than an hour but makes a big difference in the cleanliness of the home.

3. Sweep Ceilings and Corners

Again, it’s the little things. If you want to make a good impression while selling your rental property, you can’t have cobwebs lying around. Luckily, there’s a simple trick for corners and ceilings: Wrap a few pieces of paper towel around the end of a broom handle, then run it along the strip where the wall meets the ceiling and into the corners.

4. Hire Help for Appliances

Selling Your Rental Property? The Ultimate Clean Out Checklist | Appliances gather dirt, grease and grime like nothing else.

Stoves, hoods, microwaves and refrigerators are a well-known nightmare to clean – compounded by the fact that most people don’t have the right cleaning agents on hand. Instead of DIY-ing it, call in a cleaning service just for appliances. Many will work hourly, and you can save yourself big bucks without having to take this chore on.

Also, if your oven has a self-clean setting, run that the night before. That way, the cleaning professional can simply wipe it out and you don’t have to pay for them to wait out the 3 hours.

5. Use the Right Cleaning Agents for Walls

Especially if there were children in the home at any point, you’ll want to address the walls before selling your rental property. Different stains require different removers, so be sure to match them up:

  • Rubbing alcohol removes ink
  • Water and vinegar solution removes grease
  • Magic Eraser removes crayon and smears from painted furniture

Always test a cleaner on an inconspicuous corner before using it in a visible location.

6. Clean Ceiling Fans with This Crazy Tool

Remember when selling your rental property that prospective buyers may test every system. You don’t want them turning on the fan and getting showered with dust! Use this crazy pillow-case trick to clean fan blades like a pro.

Make sure to do this before you take on the basic clean-dust-sweep-mop, or you’ll undo your work.

7. Store Items for Later Use

Just because you’re selling your rental property doesn’t mean you don’t have other properties. Don’t get rid of furniture or appliances simply because the new owners don’t want them – you might miss a big opportunity.

With the rise of telecommuting among the self-employed and employees, more and more singles, couples and families are choosing to move to new places for shorter amounts of time. That means furnished and semi-furnished properties are increasingly in demand. So don’t donate that awesome couch or those handy bunkbeds; store them until you can use them instead.

Selling Your Rental Property? The Ultimate Clean Out Checklist | Plan ahead for finances and cleaning.

Plan Ahead, Plan Ahead, Plan Ahead

When you’re selling a property, it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the sale itself: finding a realtor to represent you, deciding on a fair market price, dreaming about next steps. Make sure when you’re busy thinking about the future, though, that you don’t forget about the present.

First, taxes. If the sale results in a gain, you’ll have to report that income on your tax return. If it’s a loss, you can offset other income on your return, which can lead to big savings. Because everyone’s situation is different, make sure to speak with your tax accountant about the ramifications of the sale before making a final decision on timing. (For instance, in some cases next year might prove a more lucrative time to sell.)

Also, give yourself plenty of time to clean out your property. It’s easy to give this list a once-over and assume it will take a few days or a week tops. But some aspects of it – like arranging trips to the dump or filling storage units – may take a bit longer. Get started on the process at least a month before the sale is set to close to give yourself plenty of time.

Best of Luck in Your Next Adventure!

And that’s it! With this checklist in your hand, get ready to rock the clean-out process and enjoy the next chapter of your life. If there are any great tips we missed, make sure to let us know!


About the Author

Rachel SurdiRachel Surdi – As Content Manager at Life Storage, a U.S. based self-storage provider, Rachel is an expert in all things home, moving and storage. When she’s not contributing to the Life Storage Blog, her passions include graphic design, baking and DIY projects.