The tenancy is coming to an end. A check-out inspection is arranged with the tenant – the landlord and tenant need to go through the inventory taken at the start of the tenancy together, taking a blank one to complete as a contrast to the first. How thorough does the inspection need to be? According to Sharon Betton, landlord advisor with the Bolton Bond Board and author of The Landlord Good Management and Practice Guide, Very!
Inspections are often done in a hurry and it is easy to miss something. It must be done with care as a claim to the tenancy deposit protection scheme could depend on the way the shut-down inspection is done. Depending on the length of the tenancy, there will be some fair wear and tear which is not claimable from the deposit. There is no legal definition of fair wear and tear, but a rule of thumb would be that the property should look to be in approximately the same condition as it was at the start, but with possibly a slight grubbiness to the walls; some ingrained dirt in light coloured carpets. A large wine stain in the middle of a cream carpet is not – that is down to carelessness and cost of professional re-cleaning could be deducted from the deposit.
|Floorcovering – condition and fitting||Bannisters – are they securely fitted?||Grids – clear and not blocked?|
|Decoration||Floorcovering – condition and fitting||Refuse and recycling bins|
|Curtains||Decoration||Clear of all refuse|
|Doors -locks/hinges – same no. returned as given||Curtains||Gates/fences sound|
|Windows & locks- keys should be available||Bathroom fittings/taps – no blockages and taps work||Drive and paths – sound without loose paving|
|Furniture – check condition||Doors – check hinges|
|Kitchen||Fitted furniture – check hinges, handles and empty.|
|Sink and taps – sink not blocked||Light fittings – light switches sound without cracking or electrical wires visible around switches|
|Cooker – check oven and grill are reasonably clean; check hob works||Beds – visual and nasal check|
|Refrigerator||Windows and locks|
|Cupboards – check handles, hinges and empty||Stair carpet – condition and fitting|
|Drawers – check handles and empty||Decoration|
This checklist should always be completed in conjunction with a blank inventory, completed as a contrast to the original. Photographs should again be used to support the inventory.
If a landlord can show this amount of thoroughness in his inventory process, he has a far better chance of making a successful case to the tenancy deposit protection scheme for retaining the deposit. He has also clearly shown the tenant why he is justified in keeping the deposit which may mean less disputes with the tenant. Consistency can only help the tenants, who will learn what is acceptable.
Landlords have a difficult job, with increasing demands from legislation and erosion of their rights to evict. Using a checklist reduces the amount of thought they have to give to it, as the steps are all there.
For advice on buy to let – Ask Sharon