These 2 industry/legislative changes have made the whole inventory and check in/check out process even more critical to all parties as part of the overall lettings process. We recently talked about conducting the perfect check-in and today we’ll look at creating a successful check-out process.
It all starts with the check-in process. The closure process is very much dependent on what has happened in the past. There are a number of scenarios.
No check-in/inventory was conducted, therefore there is no evidence to carry out a check out successfully. There is no quantitative evidence to assess any changes to condition, damages or cleaning. It is nearly impossible for a Landlord/Agent to charge or make any deposit deductions without this. It also leaves an ‘unknown’ to some extent with the tenant as to what will happen to their deposit.
A basic in-house inventory/check in was conducted by the landlord or agent which can be used for the check out, but proof could be limited to claim any deposit deductions if the evidence is not clear enough or there is not enough proof in the report. This will lead to differences of opinion between the Tenant, Landlord/Agent. This report will be biased and likely frowned upon if used in a dispute by one of the deposit adjudicators. This will waste time, energy and effort trying to validate and justify what is being claimed or disputed.
A professional inventory/check in was conducted by an unbiased third party company affiliated with a recognised industry body. They have then returned to do a full and thorough audit at check out with clear and full transparency and accompanying evidence. They have provided a clear summary of items that relate to tenant responsibility or landlord maintenance or other.
As we can see there are a number of pitfalls with the first 2 scenarios to the detriment of all parties in some way or another. The 3rd scenario offers a number of opportunities to all parties.
- There first must be a clear unbiased third-party inventory/check in to reference
- The length of the tenancy must be clear to balance fair wear and tear, as well as knowledge of the type of tenants that were in residence.
- The tenant must be clear on expectations and responsibilities before they depart and at check out, particularly with Covid-19 to consider, can the tenant attend in any way with social distancing or should they not be present, should they return keys to the agent and sign them over or give them to the clerk?
- The original inventory/check in report should be sent to the tenants at least 2 weeks before giving the opportunity to review and address any issues. This sets expectations for the check out.
- Cleanliness, damage and condition of the property should be checked vs the check in report
- All changes and dilapidations should be noted
- Remember to look at cleanliness, damage, missing items. What about items that have been left behind? Take photos and document changes vs the original check in.
- Take the meter readings, check is there a water meter as many more properties have these now.
- Utilise the evidence to assess what the damage deposit should be if at all.
- It’s not only the interior, what about the condition of external areas such as gardens back and front? Have sheds and outbuildings been checked?
- Have tenants forwarding details been taken, and have they signed the keys back to the agent/clerk?
If you are a Landlord or Agent that still does the check-out yourself, then ensure you follow the steps above to ensure a through review.
If you’re looking for an independent company to assist you in the process, contact us today.