Agony Agent


11th February 2017

Each week, we answer a reader’s rental property question, from first-time landlords needing pointers about contracts to experienced owners.  Agony Agent, is here to help!

Q: How can I ensure a smooth tenant check out?

A: Whether you’re saying goodbye to your perfect tenant or celebrating seeing the back of a troublesome one, you should always oversee the tenant check out professionally.  You need to ascertain whether the property is in an acceptable state and, if not, how much of the deposit should be kept.  If you produced a thorough inventory at the start of the tenancy then the check out should be fairly straightforward.  Here are five things to be aware of.

  1. Start early

A few weeks before check out, get in touch to remind the tenant that you, or a professional inventory clerk, will be coming over at a convenient time to check on the property’s condition.  This gives them a chance to review their copy of the inventory and make sure that the property is still in the same good condition it was in at the start.

  1. Reasonable wear and tear

It is important to remember that the property will never be in the exact same state as at the start of the tenancy.  You can’t charge a tenant for the natural deterioration that happens to bits and pieces in every house.  However, if something has been actively damaged, then that’s a different matter.  If the sofa is looking a little grubby and frayed, then that falls under the heading of “fair wear and tear”.  If you arrive to find one of the sofa arms falling off, that’s when you can charge them for it.  If there’s a red wine stain, the best course of action would be to charge the tenants for a professional cleaning.

  1. Ask your tenant to be there

It will speed up the process if your tenant is in the house, or waiting somewhere nearby, when the check out is being carried out; or allow an agent to handle this for you.  If something was left in a condition that you consider unacceptable, it could be explained to them in person with the use of the inventory.  If they disagree with your decision, a discussion could take place there and then.  This is when pictures taken at the start of the tenancy could be very useful.

  1. Wait…

…until the last minute to do the check out.  It is advised that the check out is done on either the last day or the day after they have left.  The property will be as empty as possible, limiting any unnoticed or hidden damage. It also ensures that the tenant has taken all their belongings with them. Definitely do not sign anything until the tenant has completely moved out just in case that final bookcase puts a hole in the wall!

  1. Take time to assess damage

If you think you need time to assess any damages and the corresponding costs to clean, repair or replace items, take it.  Get quotes from the relevant people and remember replacements should be ‘like for like’: you can’t charge for a plush new chair if they broke a bog-standard one.  Nor can you charge them for a professional clean of the whole house if they only left a stain on the living room floor.

Richard Bond

Suresh Vagjiani
Suresh Vagjiani
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