What to do when a ten­ant checks out of a rented prop­erty

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Chris Duffy

WITH mov­ing home scor­ing high on the list of life’s most stress­ful ex­pe­ri­ences, the last thing any­one needs is ad­di­tional ten­sion in the form of a dis­pute be­tween ten­ant and land­lord.

How­ever, a study has shown that 10 per cent of te­nan­cies do end in dis­agree­ment, with the main griev­ance re­lat­ing to prop­erty own­ers hold­ing back de­posits to cover clean­ing and re­pair costs. Ac­cord­ing to Belvoir Let­tings, is­sues sur­round­ing de­posits tend to arise due to a lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the two par­ties or be­cause nei­ther party is fully aware of its rights.

“A check-out is re­quired to al­low the re­lease of the de­posit,” ex­plains Chris Duffy, who owns the Belvoir of­fice on Pri­ory Place in Don­caster. “But it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that check-out is very much re­liant on the check-in at the start of the ten­ancy.

“If you do a good checkin, with ex­tremely thor­ough doc­u­men­ta­tion, then the check­out will be eas­ier. It fol­lows on that a com­pe­tent check-out of your cur­rent ten­ant will help en­sure an un­com­pli­cated check-in of the next. With­out a check-out pro­ce­dure, there is noth­ing to deter­mine whether the ten­ant has caused any dam­age or whether the land­lord needs to carry out any up­grade work.

“Fol­low­ing the cor­rect pro­ce­dure is es­sen­tial. It serves sev­eral key pur­poses – and with­out it there may be de­lays in re­leas­ing the de­posit and any prop­erty up­grades needed for the next ten­ant can­not be as­sessed.”

For­tu­nately most dis­putes over de­posits can be avoided by tak­ing sim­ple mea­sures.

Here are Belvoir’s top tips for a stress-free end to a ten­ancy:

Un­der­stand­ing agree­ments: Ten­ants must en­sure they thor­oughly un­der­stand the con­di­tions and rules out­lined in the ten­ancy agree­ment. If any­thing is un­clear they should ask for a full ex­pla­na­tion from the land­lord or let­tings agency.

De­posit schemes: All landlords are re­quired by law to pro­tect all de­posits with a Gov­ern­men­tap­proved scheme within 30 days of re­ceiv­ing it. Only one scheme (the DPS) is cus­to­dial – hold­ing the de­posit in a ded­i­cated ac­count. All oth­ers are in­sur­ance based with let­tings agents hold­ing de­posits se­curely in their own client ac­counts.

In­ven­tory: The prop­erty has to be left in the same con­di­tion that it was when the ten­ant moved in. Both ten­ant and land­lord should be mind­ful that the law, and many as­sured short hold ten­ancy agree­ments, al­low for fair wear and tear. It is there­fore good prac­tice to agree on what con­sti­tutes “fair” in this re­spect. To do that prop­erly it is vi­tally im­por­tant that there is an in­ven­tory – ide­ally a pho­to­graphic one with plenty of de­tail. Model and se­rial num­bers of ap­pli­ances should be recorded – par­tic­u­larly if these are newly in­stalled. This avoids any po­ten­tial risk of them be­ing swapped for an in­fe­rior re­place­ment. With­out an in­ven­tory, which should have been signed by the let­tings agent and ten­ant, a land­lord is un­likely to be able to deduct any money from a de­posit as there will be no proof as to what con­di­tion the prop­erty was in at the be­gin­ning of the ten­ancy.

In­spec­tion: Be­fore the rental prop­erty is va­cated the man­ag­ing let­tings agent will in­spect the prop­erty to de­cide on how much of the de­posit is to be re­turned to the ten­ant. An agent will be able to iden­tify is­sues that the land­lord may pick up on, thus giv­ing the ten­ant time to put right any prob­lems be­fore the fi­nal in­spec­tion.

Ev­i­dence: Take and date pho­to­graphs of any ex­ist­ing dam­age to the prop­erty as it is found on the mov­ing-in day. Ten­ants should then ask their land­lord to sign the pho­tos so there can be no dis­pute at the end of the ten­ancy.

Me­ter read­ing: Dur­ing check­out, ac­cu­rate me­ter read­ings are cru­cial. If pos­si­ble, take pho­to­graphic me­ter read­ings that can be pre­sented so that everybody knows the end-of­te­nancy read­ings. This pre­vents any out­stand­ing bills be­ing at­trib­uted to the land­lord.

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