It is essential that landlords adopt effective SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) when checking out their tenants.
Here are some top tips to follow when a tenant informs you of their intention to end the tenancy, always request that the tenant sends you written confirmation. Landlords need to respond promptly with a letter/email that should emphasize the condition of how the property is to be returned, amongst other things. This letter should also state when their last rent was paid/or due and that they are not to use their deposit, to pay their last months’ rent.
Ideally you should arrange a pre-check out inspection visit as soon as possible, as this will give you an opportunity to give your property the ‘once over’ before their scheduled check out date and highlight in an e-mail/letter to them any potential red flags that must be dealt with before they vacate.
On the day of check out, arrange a joint inspection with tenants, or appoint a representative on your behalf to be present. Never allow tenants to leave without a proper check-out procedure of some sort in place. By having an effective procedural system you will undoubtedly minimise disagreements that could arise after the tenancy has ended.
Utility meters will need to be read, (to be forwarded on to suppliers later) and capture the tenants forwarding address. Make a note of any deductions or potential deductions on this document – so the tenant is aware and has no nasty shocks later. Don’t be over zealous on issues that could be seen as wear & tear. Understand the difference between what is clearly damaged and what is fair wear & tear. For example; with very young children, you would expect to see hand prints along the wall by the staircase. If you are in disagreement with your tenant over deductions from a deposit, this will trigger a dispute that will be handled by the deposit scheme provider that you registered the deposit with. Proof of your claim is by paper audit, that is why it is vital to show you have completed interim inventory inspections throughout the tenancy, have signed photographs and ideally, receipts for items, when purchased that are now deemed as damaged.
Your tenants should sign this document to show they agree with the meter readings and any deductions and also ensure they sign your surrender of tenancy letter. Make sure you have a paragraph on this letter, that confirms they have removed all their possessions from the property and get them to initial next to this. By doing this, you will reduce any chances of any legal action being made against you under The Protection from Eviction Act 1977 or Torts Interference with Goods Act 1977.
Once you are satisfied that the property has been returned to you as your expectation, obtain keys from tenant (make sure they are for your property) and do not allow any tenants to return once this check out procedure has been completed.
After “check-in” admin will consist of you returning their deposit, de-register the deposit with the scheme provider and send a final e-mail/letter to the tenant, confirming this, ideally with a statement of any deductions and wish them well in their new home.