Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Landlords - avoid problems at the check out

 
Yuk
 
You think I'm going to bang on about your inventory don't you. Sorry to disappoint, let's save that for another day. Suffice to say, if you rent one of your most valuable assets to a tenant without a very good inventory, signed and agreed with the tenant, then you're in the wrong game my friends! (I will cover inventories another time).
I find the best way to avoid a problem is to anticipate it before it arrives. As soon as they give notice, communicate exactly what is going to happen at the end of the tenancy. As a landlord you know how it all goes but your tenant may not and this could be the first time they've handed a property back. The more you tell them about what to expect at the check out and in the days leading up to it, the better it will go.
Firstly confirm the final day of tenancy so there are no misunderstandings. Tell them what time you'll visit on that day to do the inventory check. Confirm the final rent payment arrangements and remind them to then cancel any Standing Order involved. Ask them to let you know if there is anything broken that needs repairing as they may have just 'lived with' minor faults and really you want to get them pegged now, before the next let.
Then give them a 'weekly countdown' in your letter. '3 weeks before check out', book your carpet clean, 2 weeks before get your Post Office mail redirect in place (this takes a week to kick in from the date you ask it to start), 1 week before get your utility and council tax details to hand ready to inform them but don't take meter readings until the final day. Recommend to them a professional oven cleaning firm - that will help you get your oven back clean and tidy and save them one of the worst jobs.
Finally, include in your 'check out letter' a helpful 'Guide to Tenants checking out'. If you take a bit of time to prepare this you can reuse it for each tenancy and things will run more smoothly. I include things like useful contact details of good, reasonably priced cleaners that I know (incl. carpets and ovens) and advice on the key areas that can result in deductions from their deposit - these may be gardens not mown or flowerbeds overgrown; fridge/freezers wiped out with a damp cloth and then left shut and switched off (they go mouldy if you do that); kitchen cupboard shelves not wiped down; skirting boards not cleaned; windows not cleaned in and out; mould on tiles and or sealant in bathrooms; piles of bin bags left outside the property - the council will often take some stuff away but not all.
Polite effective communication prior to the check out is absolutely key and has paid dividends for me again and again; anything that can avoid getting a property back dirty and damaged is a bonus - especially if it saves you having to go down the route of claiming money from a tenants deposit through the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

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