With the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) predicting Thursday 21st September the busiest period for the termination of tenancy in the United Kingdom, it is crucial that both tenants and landlords understand the true extent of how the process works. The number of tenancies ending in 2017 is expected to increase from last years’ 18,000, more than triple the average end of tenancy.
The following article aims to guide tenants and landlords through the process, ensuring that all aspects of the end of tenancy agreement is accounted for, making the moving out process as smooth as possible.
Confirmation of Termination: What to do Next as a Landlord
As a landlord, once you have been given notification from your tenant(s) that they are leaving rented accommodation or their tenancy period is due for renewal, there are significant aspects that need to be covered.
Vacating Alerts – Ensure that the tenant(s) are clearly reminded in the closing stages of the tenancy agreement. This will ensure a smoother check-out and deposit refund. Remind the tenant(s) to remove all belongings and clean the property ready for final inspection.
Check Out Inspection – Ensure that an inspection of the property is arranged before the tenant(s) move out. This inspection must take place before the deposit is refunded, should the property be damage-free. The end of tenancy inspection should cover any deductions made if parts of the property are damaged or missing, including rent arrears. The tenant must be reminded of the contractual elements of the inspection, including the accountability of the properties’ inventory and a comprehensive check-in report.
It is imperative that the tenant(s) receive a copy of the inventory list prior to tenancy termination, as well as a copy of the check-in report; transparency is key to make the process efficient.
Should any of the property be damaged or missing, it is crucial that the tenant(s) are reminded of the cost that will be deducted from the deposit as part of the contractual tenancy agreement. This deduction covers the cost of repair or reinstating the property to its original condition.
As well as allowing fair wear and tear (within reason), calculating deductions should be based on changes to the condition of the property during the tenancy period and the damages that break the terms set out in the tenancy agreement.
Returning the Deposit – A discussion of identified damages (should any be present) is the first proceeding in organising a refund of the tenant’s deposit. Having a discussion in person may help to alleviate any complexities or misunderstandings of the possible damages to the property. Should the damages amount to more than the deposit, the tenant must provide the remaining balance or the face legal action in county court.
Any undisputed deposit must be returned to the tenant(s) within 10 days of the undisputed amount being agreed. The tenant(s) must be aware of the refund of deposit within these ten days, if no deductions are to be made. Sending a check out report should document all relevant deductions should they be made.
Vacating Fees – Where applicable, ensure that all abortive fees are paid by the tenant(s).
Preparing the Property for Check-Out: Tenants
As a tenant, it is important to read all relevant contracts and agreements provided by the landlord. Should any of these be missing, it is crucial to the let the landlord know as soon as possible. Failing to do so could have detrimental effect on the end of tenancy agreement.
Cleaning – With accordance to the rules set out in the tenancy agreement and property inventory, a tenant must clean the property to the standards of the landlord. This includes, but not limited to:
- Removal of waste and rubbish from all areas of the property.
- Cleaning of Fridges, Freezers, Oven and all other kitchen appliances. Where applicable, all appliances must be emptied, defrosted and switched off. Washing machines must be cleaned and fitted with a new filter unless stated otherwise by the landlord.
- Ensure all parts of the property are deeply cleaned, dusted and vacuumed, taking care of finer details in bathrooms. This may include removing all cases of mould that may have appeared during the period of tenancy and cleaning of soap scum.
- Tidy the garden, ensuring the grass (if present) is cut and all weeds are removed. All pathways must also be swept.
- If the property has a garage, ensure this is well swept and returned to original condition.
- Furniture must be returned to the original positions as described on the property inventory.
It is possible to hire external cleaners that will carry out all these tasks. This may require more work on behalf of the tenant(s) regarding the sourcing of said sources, but it may guarantee the property is cleaned to a very high standard.
Check Out Report and Inventory – Ensure that all property inventory is accounted for and documented. Send the landlord a copy of the check out report so that the landlord can make any relevant deductions should there be any.
Return all Keys, Fobs and Parking Permits – Ensure that all forms of access to the property are returned to the landlord when vacating the property. Should any of these be missing, the landlord may deduct the cost of replacement from the deposit.
Utility Bills – Ensure that all utility bills, including broadband are terminated and paid prior to vacating the property. If the rent includes these bills, this process should be taken care of by the landlord. All standing orders must also be cancelled.
Provide a forwarding address – By providing a forwarding address, it will make the process of returning the deposit smoother. It will prove far more difficult for the landlord to return the deposit should a forwarding address not be provided.
Pay all Due Rent – Most importantly, all rent that is due must be paid before the tenant(s) vacate the property.
These steps should ensure that the process of terminating a tenancy runs smoothly and with little dispute (that is if the property has been maintained and undamaged at the point of inspection). If both the tenant(s) and landlord understand the process of tenancy termination now, it may avoid further complications down the line.