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Do I need an independent check out report?


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We have given our tenant notice to vacate on 5th March.

We completed our own inventory and also hope to complete the check out report, however, we are unable to get to the property before 6th March.

Are we able to prepare the report ourselves on that date or do we have to get it done independently?

Thanks

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mcnof

 

I think that an earlier post in reply to your question may have been one of the posts that failed to load but your question has a number interelated issues that you may or may not be aware of:

 

Just because you have given your tenant "notice to quit" on the 5th of March does not guarantee that this will indeed happen. I am hoping that you have had an Assured Short Term tenancy agreement in place and if so that you have served the correct notice usually referred to as a "Section 21 Notice"?  Depending on whether your tenant is running to the end of a fixed term agreement or a Statutory Periodic Tenancy agreement will effect the minor wording difference of the Sect 21 notice (although recent case law may have reduced this problem) but there are critical pieces on information that you need to sort on the notice - most important of which is the end date listed on the notice and the time interval that elapsed between the notice given and the end date.  

 

If your tenants were paying monthly on the 6th of each month you would have had to serve the notice on or before 5 Jan with an end date on the notice of the 5 Mar.  Many landlords make the mistake of putting the 6th on which invalidates the notice and will be required to be reserved with the correct time period and end date on it.  If you taken a deposit and have failed to register it properly and administer all the requirements of Prescribed Information for the deposit scheme that you are using then a S21 notice is invalid  not technically possible to be enforced either as the courts would not be able to grant accelerated possession & you may be likely to be fined yourself for failing to comply with deposit regulations (this can be up to 4x the deposit originally taken).  Sorry to be the harbinger of doom!!

 

Hopefully you will have done all of the above properly but you must remember that a S21 is not a notice to quit but is informing the tenant that you are not renewing the tenancy at the next end point and that you intend to seek possession of the property thereafter.  In he vast majority of tenancies the S21 is perceived as a de facto quit date and most tenants leave on or before this date.  I suspect that a fair amount of this is because most tenants are not aware of the law or their rights but also they are decent tenants who accept the end date and move on accordingly.

 

Moving on to the check out formalities - it is perfectly normal to carry out a check out a day or 2 after the tenant has departed and they do not have to be present at the inspection.  Different companies have different ways of going about it.  Some do a check out with the individual present but this can lead to contention, suspicion and a toxic end to a tenancy.  In my current company we expect tenants to hand back the keys as a relinqishment of the tenancy and a statement that they have done all they are going to do to the property before it is inspected and adjudicated for dilapidations and any charges made.  All inspections are made against the original inventory and condition report made at the start of the tenancy and signed by the tenant and the agent on each page + any hand amendments made when the inventory has been gone through together.

 

From your post it reads as though you have made up the inventory you expect to see at the end but not indicated that it was a mutually agreed document that was put in place at the outset.  If you do not have a proper inventory, and the outgoing tenant contests your charges you will be most unlikely to be able to claim anything via the deposit dispute resolution services as they will uphold the tenant's claim as there are no valid standards to compare the incoming and outgoing conditions with.

 

Regarding doing an inventory yourselves versus a professional this will depend on how good you are and how well you document it.  An accredited inventory clerk should provide a professional service but if he has no proper incoming inventory and condition report to work to he will not be able to help much other than provide you a baseline for your next tenant.

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Hi Tim, thank you for your reply, it's very helpful for us. We actually have a managing agent who originally issued 2 months notice, as per the terms of their contract, however, the tenant then counter-noticed so they have decided to leave within one month instead. This has all now been agreed, and the tenant will be meeting us at the property on Friday, but the agent isn't.

When our previous tenants left the property, we were unhappy with the professional check out report, as it was very vague and failed to mention some damages that we could not then claim for. We thought this time it would be better for us to complete the report ourselves.

The tenant signed a copy of our inventory at the start of their tenancy, and we have a very thorough report. Can you give us any pointers or tips on how to go about the check out? With the tenant present, it could cause some tension as you mention, so we would be grateful for any tips on how best to conduct this, or even if there is a certain template we should follow? We know there has been some damage to one of the sash window cords and paint work in the bathroom, but assume because this was highlighted to us previsouly, this will not be something we can dispute?

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks.

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Hi

Fascinated that your managing agent is ducking carrying out the check out against the inventory.  If you were employing them to manage your property this looks like an abdication of responsibility!  However the way that some agents seem to mount up additional fees for, what should be, a routine management job is increasingly prevalent and may be a reason for changing agents for one that does the job properly.  If they have been managing the property for you they will have been carrying out routine inspections and should have a good feel for the general state of the property.

 

That said - a check out is not rocket science and if you have a reasonably good inventory & condition report this is the bench mark for your check out.  You should be looking for the property to be handed back in a similar condition to the way you let it - BUT you will also have to take into account fair wear and tear dependent on the length of the tenancy.  You cannot expect higher standards at the end than in the beginning so it will partly depend on the condition you let it in at the start.

 

Hopefully you or your agent will have sent them a preparation to depart letter which sets out the expected standards for the tenants handing back the property to include such items as:

 

Carpets properly cleaned / professionally if pets had been permitted or they were professionally cleaned prior to the let and itemised on the first report.

Laminate and vinyl floor surfaces properly clean - dust/ mark & stain free

Windows & frames cleaned

Walls wiped clean

Ledges and edges dust free

Kitchen - surfaces, cupboards & drawers clean.  Hob, oven and extractor fan grease & food grime free

Bathroom furniture properly clean - soap/ limescale free all dust/fluff removed.   

All personal belongings removed

Loft voids emptied

 

Outside

Garden tidy for the season

Patios & decking etc clean - leaf and weed free (season dependant)

Garage/ sheds empty and clean.

 

If this letter has not been sent then you are largely relying on the tenants second guessing what to do to return the property in an acceptable condition.  If the tenants have looked after the property there should be few reasons for deducting money fro the deposit - the deductions are for negligence or demonstrable neglect or damage.  For any appliances, if you have not supplied operating instructions it will be hard to persuade a deposit tribunal that you gave the tenant the information they needed to properly look after the equipment if you find it subsequently damaged.

 

As you are meeting the tenants at the property it is worth planning the meeting so that you control the event.  Read the inventory report carefully beforehand and look at all the photos so that you are familiar with each room - particularly the known defects.  Have 2 photocopies of the written report so that you can mark one with notes and discrepancies accordingly yourself and give the tenant a copy also.  DON'T MARK the origianal signed copy - you may need to use this as evidence later.  Take a camera with you and make sure you can use it effectively as blurred or dark photos will not prove anything at a tribunal.

Try and remain friendly but businesslike and set the tone by stating that it is not normal for them to be present but that you will use the original signed report as the baseline for all observations.  Ask the tenant if they have any confessions to make - hopefully lightening the tone of things - they will certainly tell you all the things they think should not be counted against them!

It is then a case of going through each room as per the original report.  When entering the room have a cursory look to see if it is in a generally acceptable state.  Be careful not to be seen to be nit picking or making mountains out of mole hills or the atmosphere will evaporate!  If you are not sure I would bluff it and say that you are going to take a general impression of the whole property and then go back for a line by line inspection.  When observing problems be as matter of fact and dispassionate as possible - take photos of any issue items and write down the issue on your copy of the report.

Be realistic in your assessment on cleanliness and wear - the odd nick on a doorway, wear on floors in high traffic areas or light marking on walls where occupants manoeuvre (bottom of stairs, doorways etc) should be allowable, particularly if the walls have manifestly been cleaned tot he best of their ability.

IF items are contested by the tenant take a view on their reasonableness but note it nevertheless.  If items are needing to be replaced you may not be able to give the tenant a price at the end of the meeting without getting quotes.  I would , recommend giving the tenant a verbal synopsis of the issues you are raising and inform him that you will write/email your conclusions as soon as you get all your quotes in.

At the end of the day the tenant handing the keys to you for the inspection is them relinquishing control of the tenancy/property and once you have concluded your inspection they will be expected to leave and not return.  

This has been a bit lengthy but I hope it is a useful starter for you - good luck

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What I forgot to add - too busy watching the Aston Villa game :rolleyes: !!

 

I should have mentioned how to assess fair wear and tear which is an important element of assessing the condition of the returned property.  Do not forget that an element of the rent is always towards the maintenance and updates to the property and this also needs to be taken into account.  These hyperlinks will be useful in assessing proeprty condition at the end of a tenancy

 

http://www.mydeposits.co.uk/sites/default/files/Wear%20%26%20Tear%20Guide.pdf

http://www.depositprotection.com/documents/a-guide-to-tenancy-deposits-disputes-and-damages.pdf

http://www.lettingsinventoryclerk.co.uk/9.html

 

I hope the check out goes to plan

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Hi Tim, we completed the report on Friday and luckily it went fine with the tenant and she didn't stay long, although she was very keen to state she needed the deposit back as she has borrowed it. She also pointed out some damages and during the viewing, we have noticed several things that have not been left in good order or are now damaged. 

 

We now need to try and claim some of the deposit in order to get certain things repaired. We have sent the report to our agent, but he has requested a price breakdown, so we have met with three builders, two of which have complied quotes for us, and the third should come through by the end of today. So far, both quotes have totalled £1450 (her deposit is £1350), although none of the quotes are itemised by room or job.

 

We understand its probably quite unlikely that we'll be able to retain all the deposit, and we are expecting the tenant to dispute any deductions, but we want to try and claim as much as possible, as the rest of the cost will be covered by us. Do you have any advice on the best way to go about this and what happens if it comes to a dispute? Because we have completed both the inventory and check out ourselves, we know they don't carry as much weight but we are happy to pursue this as far as we need to go. We read through the links you sent us before, which were very useful so we have a lot of photographic evidence. The damages and issues are as follows:

 

HALLWAY:

- re-plaster and smooth over two areas of wall in the hallway (tenant's Dad has attempted to do so, but to an unsatisfactory level, and also damaged the laminate flooring in the process)

- re-paint the hallway due to marks, scuffs and scratches (tenant has attempted to paint over certain areas but used incorrect paint so gloss catches the light on an over wise matt finish)

- all wood work and doors/door frames need re-painting

- all door thresholds need replacing as they have been cracked and scuffed

KITCHEN

- new catch required on fridge and washing machine cupboard doors

- work tops need sanding down and varnishing (they were unprotected when we purchased the property, so this has only been made worse with damp stains etc)

- oven needs cleaning

GENERAL

- laminate flooring needs cleaning

- one mortise key is missing so needs replacing

- all windows need cleaning inside and outside

- several bulbs in kitchen, bedroom and hallway need replacing

LOUNGE

- skirting board in lounge needs re-painting, as does the Victorian-style radiator as pink paint has been spilled down it

BATHROOM

- shower door needs re-attaching to runners, lime scale and watermarks need cleaning from the door, plug needs unblocking

BEDROOM 1

- mould/damp stains around sash windows needs removing and re-painting

- sash windows need re-painting as lots of water marks and damp stains

- tenant has added blinds to sash windows without our (landlords) permission, these need to be removed

- skirting board needs re-painting

- banister and skirting board on mezzanine level need re-painting

- carpet on mezzanine level needs to be professionally cleaned

BEDROOM 2

- barrel lock on sash window needs repairing

 

Let us know your thoughts on the best way to go about this, we appreciate any advice.

Thanks.

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Can you forward me a copy of the original inventory to my email tim.wragby@btinternet.com and I'll post a response on here so that others can see what I suggest?  I am not sure that the adjudicators will take less notice of your claim because you are not a qualified inventory clerk - it will all hang on the detail of your submission and if they can follow a logical, reasonable and coherent claim.

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