6 Things Landlords Hate Seeing in Your Bathroom, According to Some Brutally Honest Landlords

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Credit: Jessica Rapp

In terms of expensive mistakes, a lot can go wrong in a bathroom. Just think: Cramped quarters with multiple water sources, plus the presence of paint, tile, and wood in a damp, moist environment. The chances of needing to dole out some money to fix something in a bathroom is high, which can make landlords jumpy. If you’re renting, there are a few sights in your bathroom that’ll make your landlord cringe. Here are six things to avoid.


This one is pretty obvious, but it bears mentioning anyway. Mold is never a good sign, no matter where it is. While mold isn’t completely unavoidable, especially in certain climates, mold in a bathroom is often indicative of complacency on the renter’s part. If your bathroom gets steamy during showers and baths, use the bathroom fan. It’s there to help mitigate moisture damage, which includes mold. A former landlord of mine complained to me once about this with other tenants and chalked it up to a fundamental misunderstanding of how mold develops. Mold loves places that are damp—especially if there’s a source of warmth.

Hair dye and nail polish stains

While these items are pretty standard for a lot of folks, we can understand why they might sound the alarm bells for a landlord. Hair dye has a way of staining everything it comes into contact with, even porcelain sinks. Nail polish can be slightly easier to deal with with the help of acetone, but it depends on the surface. Simple fixes like painting nails over a piece of paper or cloth and dying hair carefully (perhaps with some towels or newspapers around to catch flyaway dye drips) can erase this problem.

A filthy shower or tub

When the shower, tub, or sink is filthy, it’s not just an issue of an unsightly mess. People who can’t clean these spots at least somewhat regularly can create disaster situation with the drains and general plumbing. If you don’t bother to clean the tub, reason follows that you probably aren’t bothering with cleaning the drain either. This can lead to backups and high plumbing bills. Not only that, but this one thing can point to a tenant who hasn’t done their due diligence to keep up the rest of the property, either. “I would worry about what else the tenants aren’t taking care of or are damaging,” says landlord Kristina Allsup. “It’s why I include a clause in the lease requiring tenants to keep the property in ‘reasonably clean’ condition.”

Jewelry, bobby pins, and other small items near the sink

It’s a relatively common behavior to set these kinds of small items on the sink before a shower. But these are exactly the kinds of things that fall into drains and can become a huge plumbing hassle. Instead, get a container (even just a jar) in your bathroom that’s solely for items at risk of slipping down the drain.

A paint job

As much as you might think you’re improving the look of your bathroom, it’s especially important that you run any changes involving paint past the landlord. Landlord Erin O’Keefe says she once had tenants paint the bathroom tile. “It looked fine, but it’s just basic courtesy,” she explains. And that’s the best possible outcome—that it looks fine, but the landlord thinks you should have asked. After all, it’s their property. Some worse case scenarios? You did a bad job and now the tile is ruined, you used the wrong kind of paint for a high-moisture area, or you got paint on other items in the bathroom. 

Water damage

“People don’t bother to spread out the shower curtain all the way and end up spraying the bathroom floor the whole time they shower,” says landlord Abby Rose. This might seem like a low-stakes error, but it can actually be pretty serious, as it leads to water damage. In extreme cases, this water damage can cause a total collapse of the floor and the ceiling below.

Even if these seem like obvious no-nos, we assure you they are not obvious to everyone. They’re common enough that landlords everywhere grow concerned when they see these mistakes—because they already know what kinds of problems are associated with them.