Check in with your tenants before they check out, say the experts at Belvoir…
“In order to protect your property investment and maximise your profit potential the steps you take at the end of a tenancy are equally as important as those taken at the beginning,” says owner of Belvoir Nuneaton and Hinckley and co-owner of Belvoir Tamworth Clayton Foston.
“Before your tenants check out check in with them to review the tenancy and renew the property before the next tenant moves in.”
“The check out procedure serves several key purposes,” explains Clayton.
“It is vital in order to identify whether any damage has been caused to the property and for the deposit to be released.
“It is also a time to take accurate metre readings. We find taking photographic readings are best. Copies of these should be kept by both you and the tenant to ensure there is no confusion about outstanding bills moving forward.
“During the check out you should also ask for any keys which are being held by the tenant. This is important for the security of the property and the safety of the next tenant. If all keys are not returned within 48hrs, I would always suggest that locks are changed and replacement keys provided at the cost of the outgoing tenant.
“Make sure the property has been left empty too and none of the tenant’s belongings have been left behind – always check outbuildings and attic spaces as these can sometimes be overlooked during the upheaval of a move.
“In addition, the check out is an opportunity for you to assess whether any property upgrades are needed or essential maintenance is necessary. You may also want to re-decorate plus replace carpets or curtains that are beginning to look at bit worn. The property will need to be thoroughly cleaned before the next tenant arrives too.
“In fact, checking out your current tenant competently will allow for an uncomplicated check in of the next.”
“To perform the check out a careful inspection of your property is vital to ensure it is still in the same condition as when the tenant was first handed the keys,” says co-owner of Belvoir Liverpool West Derby and Belvoir Liverpool Central Adam Rastall.
“The biggest challenge here is often determining whether dilapidations are fair wear and tear or damage caused by the tenant. This becomes increasingly tricky if a tenant has been living at the property for a long time.
“Always take along the inventory that was compiled at the beginning of the tenancy as a point of reference,” continues Adam. “This should include information about everything, from flooring and walls to skirting boards and fixtures and fittings. It is a time stamp of the property’s condition and should have been signed by both yourself and the tenant.
“A fully-photographic inventory with all key details noted will make your moving out assessment easier. In fact, the competency of a check out is very much determined by a comprehensive initial check in so always make sure detailed documentation of the property is undertaken at that stage.
“Often the inventory is the only proof a landlord has of a property’s condition at the beginning of the tenancy, so without this essential record claims against a deposit are unlikely to be successful.”
“It’s important that the check out takes place towards the very end of the tenancy, preferably on the day that the tenant is leaving,” says Clayton.
“If a tenant is still in the process of moving out you will be unable to assess the property properly and key tasks, such as taking meter readings and receiving the keys, can’t be fulfilled.
“Always arrange in advance what day (and time) this will be and ask the tenant to meet you at the property so that questions can be asked by both parties if necessary.”
“A landlord can carry out the check out themselves or they may prefer to ask a professional letting agent to do this for them,” says Adam. “Letting agents are industry experts who will know what to look out for and if a deposit should be returned in part or full.
“They are a non-biased third party who can assess any damage caused to a property and mediate between the landlord and tenant to reach a fair and reasonable conclusion.
“If your property is fully managed, then the checking out of tenants is likely to be included in the services already provided by your agent. However, if you’re a self-managing landlord most agents will be happy to perform the check out procedure on your behalf for an additional fee.”
Clayton adds, “Some tenants ask us to do a pre-check out inspection for them too. This involves us visiting the property and advising them what they will need to do before the official check out in order to ensure a speedy return of their deposit.”
“Once the property has been vacated, a final inspection has taken place, and deposit deductions (if needed) have been agreed, arrangements can be made for the rest (or all) of the deposit to be released,” says Clayton.
“If there are no deductions the deposit can be returned quickly. However, if some (or all) of the deposit is being held back check out conclusions can take longer, especially if further assessments are needed or contractor calculations have to be gained. If this is the case the tenant must be made aware that dilapidations have occurred and the deposit will be affected.
“It’s also important to note that while the deposit is generally enough to correct minor issues, such as marks or stains, regular inspections throughout a tenancy are essential in order to ensure substantial damage is not occurring,” he concludes. “Identifying issues and rectifying them as they arise will enable an efficient check out which can be carried out with ease.”
Tenant check out ticklist – at-a-glance…
√ Visit the property for the final inspection
√ Take along the inventory so you can compare and contrast
√ Take the meter readings – photographic ones are helpful
√ Ensure sets of keys are returned in full, including those for garages and outbuildings
√ Check the working condition of cookers, white goods and toilets etc
√ Ensure the property has been vacated properly and no belongings have been left behind
√ Negotiate any deposit deductions, backing up your assessments with evidence
√ Start making preparations for the next tenant, including upgrades, maintenance and cleaning
√ Ask a specialist letting agent to carry out the check out. They are experienced industry experts and can make independent assessments for you
Article Courtesy of: Belvoir