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An end of tenancy checklist for landlords

An end of tenancy checklist for landlords
An end of tenancy checklist for landlords

When a tenant is due to vacate a property, there are plenty of tasks the landlord must complete to ensure that the end of tenancy goes smoothly. Preparing for the handover well in advance will preempt any potential delays or misunderstandings, ensuring the property has been thoroughly cleaned, the keys handed back, and any repairs or deposit deductions taken care of in good time for a subsequent tenant to move in, with minimal disruption to rental incomes during the transition.

Use our handy checklist to plan and prepare for your tenant moving out and ensure that your property is ready for a new tenant as soon as possible.

 

Disclaimer: The information provided on clearway.co.uk is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as advice or relied upon as a substitute for professional legal counsel on the subject of debt, lease or eviction-related matters. Any reliance you place on the information provided on clearway.co.uk is strictly at your own risk. We shall not be liable for any loss or damage, including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, arising from the use of, or reliance on, the information presented on this website.

End of tenancy notice.

Make sure that your tenant provides you with written notice of when and why they are leaving the property. If you are ending the tenancy, then you must provide your tenant with the written notice.

Most tenancy agreements state that the notice period should be 28 days or one calendar month, although it is important to verify the clauses relating to lease termination within the contract.

If your tenant has informed you of their intention to leave, you should reciprocate with a written acknowledgement, using this to set out the terms of the departure and any relevant factors such as:

  • Confirmation of the date and time by which the tenant is expected to have left the property and removed all personal belongings.
  • Details of the final rental payment owing, including any adjustments for a short month.
  • Information about the final inspection process, preferably before the moving-out date, giving you enough time to advise the tenant on any repairs or maintenance work they are responsible for completing to receive back their full deposit.
  • Guidance about when the deposit will be returned and any conditions applicable.

It is inadvisable to agree to keep the security deposit in lieu of a final month’s rent. There are various statutory laws around tenant deposit protections, and retaining a deposit will mean you have no recourse to withhold some or all of the deposit if you later find any damage to the property.

Communicate what is expected

Clear communication can help an end of tenancy to run smoothly. Remind your tenants of any relevant contractual obligations and let them know what you expect in terms of end of tenancy cleaning.

A pre-departure inspection is highly advisable since both the outgoing tenant and landlord can participate in the process and discuss any issues – without this becoming a contentious matter when the tenant has already left.

The best practice is to inform the tenant when the inspection will occur or suggest dates and times to ensure the scheduled visit is convenient for both parties. You may also wish to share a checklist of the inventory, fixtures and aspects of the property that will be checked, such as:

  • Damage or breakages to furniture or appliances.
  • Stains, marks and scratches that exceed the limitations of reasonable wear and tear.
  • Indications of leaks, water staining or infestations.

Working through the rental agreement together is a good way to define which party is responsible for addressing these problems, referring back to the tenancy contract rather than leaving any room for ambiguity.

Agreeing to a timescale for any repairs or cleaning to be completed should give sufficient time for a final inspection, confirming that work is satisfactory.

If your tenant is still in the property, make sure that you communicate with them before arranging any viewings to ensure that they are at convenient times.

Most landlords will be keen to market a property swiftly, reducing any gaps in rental revenues between one tenant leaving and another moving in. The norm is to start advertising the home around four weeks before the current tenant is due to vacate the property.

However, you should be conscious that, although the existing tenant is due to leave, they retain the right to ‘peaceful enjoyment’ of the property, and you cannot necessarily arrange as many viewings as you wish or expect on-demand access to the home while they remain a paying tenant.

If you are planning to redecorate the rental property, carry out any other repairs or modifications or repeat deep cleaning once the tenant has left, it may be worth scheduling viewings for after this point – since the appearance and impression of the property can be a significant factor in whether a prospective new tenant is keen to move in.

Provided the property is in good condition and the current tenant is happy to allow viewings, these can proceed. Landlords can also list a property with images, video walk-throughs and floor plans in advance and then organise viewings once the home is empty.

End of tenancy inspection

On the day that your tenants move out, an end of tenancy inspection should be carried out and any damage that isn’t general wear and tear should be photographed and recorded.

Don’t forget to make the following checks during a final tenancy inspection.

  • Check the property is clean.
  • Check that all appliances still work and are safe.
  • Perform a thorough inventory check.
  • Test fire alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Check the property for signs of damage or maintenance required.
  • Return all furniture and items to their original position if they have been moved.

Using an end of tenancy moving out form can be valuable, where the document details a checklist of all the inventory or furnishings that belong to the landlord and allows you to tick off each item as it is inspected – rather than having a walk around the property and hoping anything that is not in good order jumps out.

If you intend to make any deductions to the tenant’s deposit, you should agree on the amount to be deducted or refer back to your rental agreement if this includes clauses that dictate the value you are permitted to withhold.

The most common reasons for deposit deductions include rubbish or waste left behind, broken handles or locks, and staining to worktops and carpets. In some cases, you may need to arrange for quotations for repair work or replacements to evidence the amount of the deposit withheld.

Take meter readings and call utility companies

Let the utility companies know the meter readings when the tenant moves out and check that all utility bills have been paid up-to-date.

Even if you have a new tenant ready to move in the next day, taking readings is essential, especially where tenants are responsible for paying water, electricity and gas bills, which is the standard arrangement.

Final utility bills may not arrive until after the previous tenant has left, so you may need to confirm that the outgoing tenant has informed the suppliers of their moving-out date and paid all charges up to date.

Call the council

Check council tax payments are up-to-date. If the property is going to be vacant between tenants, then you will need to arrange to pay the council tax yourself for this period.

In the same way that late or unpaid utility bills can cause no end of issues, council tax accounts should also be settled. Landlords can confirm whether the outgoing tenant has paid their council tax liabilities up to date before returning their deposit or, ideally, before they move out.

Release the deposit

Make any applicable deductions before releasing the deposit to the tenant within 10 days of them moving out.

Tenant’s deposits must be deposited with an approved deposit protection scheme and released when all work, repairs, and bill payments have been completed.

The correct process will depend on the type of scheme you use – you will either need to inform the scheme provider that the deposit can be returned, including any deductions, or return the deposit directly and notify the deposit insurance provider that you have done so.

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