Checking a tenant out

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  • Checking a tenant out

    I am a landlord who is due to have my first tenant check out. Just wondered if anyone had got any useful advice. My tenant has been renting off of me for nearly 2 years. The house was in an immaculate condition at the start of the tenancy. I have carried out a few inspections throughout the tenancy, and although the cleaning left a lot to be desired, there did not seem to be any damage to the property. The tenant asked if she could sand and revarnish a solid hardwood floor that had started to show signs of wear, and i agreed. On a following visit, the floor was patchy. The tenant told me that she intended to get the floor re-sanded. This was never carried out. I telephoned the tenant and explained that on check out, i would expect the property to be thoroughly cleaned, and i mentioned, that if the floor was not re-sanded by the tenant, then i would need to have that carried out, which would result in a cost to the tenant. The tenant also informed me that she had lost an external door key and some window keys. Should i take the cost of these from the deposit? Is that petty? Not sure how strict to be when i go to carry out the final check. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!
    Last edited by Lizzy; 21-09-2006, 12:10 PM.

  • #2
    Perhaps a silly question but you do have a fully detailed inventory signed at moving in by the tenant yes?
    Any posts by myself are my opinion ONLY. They should never be taken as correct or factual without confirmation from a legal professional. All information is given without prejudice or liability.

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    • #3
      OMG, thanks for your quick reply! Yes i do have an inventory. It stated what was in the property (only fixtures and fittings, not furniture), and what condition everything was in (flooring, walls etc). I do get on quite well with the tenant, and that's probably going to be my downfall - agreeing to everything and then realising (financially) that i have made a mistake.

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      • #4
        Probably depends in part on how good a tenant they've been - if they've been really reliable for two years and kept the place well, then IMHO it would be petty to charge £2 for a new key (unless you consider it's necessary to change the locks as a result? which would be a different matter.

        If you're going to charge her for putting right a trashed floor, then that will way outweigh the cost of a couple of keys!

        You might want to check into replacing window keys - if you don't have an original to copy that could be expensive?

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        • #5
          Thanks for that, i didn't think of it like that, and it makes good sense!!

          Have you any advice on how i should proceed on check out day? It's it just a case of walking round with the tenant and agreeing (hopefully) on what is ok? I know i've got to take meter readings. Do i need to get the tenant's signature for anything?

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          • #6
            You don't have to get the tenants signature, but it would be beneficial to do so. If they are willing to sign about the condition of the property, and specifically sign for damages they agree to, it should save legal wranglings!

            Bear in mind that you do not have to do the check out with the tenant there, but again it is probably advisable to do so....means you can discuss there and then any damages, and hopefully come to a early agreement.
            Any posts by myself are my opinion ONLY. They should never be taken as correct or factual without confirmation from a legal professional. All information is given without prejudice or liability.

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            • #7
              On checkout day you should check your property with the tenant against the inventory and get the tenant to agree to the reasons for any deductions you wish to make from the deposit. If you have to do this then a signed statement from the tenant is a good idea. Confirm that tenant has terminated contract with BT for telephone line. Check meter readings, agree these with tenant and then gain tenant's permission to pass their forwarding address on to utility companies for final bills. You also need this to send on deposit refund cheque. Finally discuss arrangements for any remaining tenants property, collect keys and see tenant off property.
              That's what I do anyway.

              P.P.
              Any information given in this post is based on my personal experience as a landlord, what I have learned from this and other boards and elsewhere. It is not to be relied on. Definitive advice is only available from a Solicitor or other appropriately qualified person.

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              • #8
                Re window keys, if you look in Yellow pages you'll find "double glazing repairs" rather than installation. I spoke to a company who told me to just take off one of the handles (and explained how to do it!) and that he'd have a look for some replacement keys which he'd be able to sell me. This means I don't have to pay £13 each for new handles in a house where all the window keys have been lost.

                And I don't think it's petty to charge for a replacement key to be cut. Either that or suggest that the tenant gets a key cut herself so she can return the right number.

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                • #9
                  Thanks for the advice everybody!!! I'm due for the big 'check out' tomorrow, so i'll let you know how i got on!!

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                  • #10
                    Went to check my tenant out today! Please could you offer advice on the following?

                    The tenant told me that the floor had been re-sanded and re-varnished. I told the tenant, that in my opinion, it was not to a suitable standard. The floor was still patchy in colour and the finish was not good (if you rubbed your hand over the wood you could feel grit). The tenant said that she would get someone to look at it (her father-in-law is a joiner/floorer), i said, fine, i will be happy to meet him here and discuss it.

                    The second thing is cleanliness. Just how clean should i expect the house to be? When i left it, it was immaculate. I have an inventory (that me and the tenant signed) to say so. But the inventory does not entail specifics about the actual cleanliness of the place, just that (room by room) it was in an immaculate condition. Today the house, to me, is not clean. Some of the things that i noted, and commented on to the tenant were - the oven (outside) and hob had clearly not been cleaned, nor did it look like the kitchen unit doors had. The tenant argued her case that she had washed them all down, but i could easily point out to her that it did not look as though they had been cleaned. She did not comment. A white radiator had scuffs on, that would have wiped off with some elbow grease and cream cleaner, a brass fire hearth, and brass light switch, looked as if they had never seen any brasso since the day i left the house. There were mucky, sticky marks on the white pvc of the windows. Am i being too unreasonable?

                    What should i exactly expect the tenant to clean?

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                    • #11
                      Doesn't sound to me like you are being unreasonable on either count. Tenants often don't realise that to save a massive clean, things like ovens and hobs need to be cleaned weekly/fortnightly, otherwise it is a pretty big job. If you let the property in an immaculate state CLEANLINESS wise, then you are entitled to it back in the same condition - cleanliness/dust etc does not come under fair wear and tear. All that said, it does sound that at least the tenant has attempted to sort the place out, so I would try and solve the situation amicably if possible...but not to the extent where you bear the costs!
                      Any posts by myself are my opinion ONLY. They should never be taken as correct or factual without confirmation from a legal professional. All information is given without prejudice or liability.

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                      • #12
                        Thanks for that. Cleanliness as always been a bit of an issue, but i thought, it's the tenant's home not mine! Today, the tenant did ask to keep the key and said that she would clean it again, but i refused, stating that the tenancy's expired from today. I said i would contact her at a later time. I do think she has cleaned the house today, in a fashion, but i think that throughout the 2 years the tenant has been in the house, she hasn't cleaned much at all. So basically, she has just wiped over muck. Before i rent the house again, it will need cleaning from top to bottom. I am considering contacting a cleaning company and sending the bill to the tenant. Otherwise, it would take me, say 3 full days to clean it. What do you think?

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                        • #13
                          I would agree, and that is what most landlords would do. Just ensure that you take lots of photographic evidence in case of a dispute. You *could* give her the keys back for two days say, and tell her exactly what you want resolving, if you so wished. Do you have a tenant moving in soon? It may just be that this would be the quickest and most amicable way to resolve the issue. But, this is certainly over and above what most landlords would allow. If you did proceed with this, then make it perfectly clear to her that, should her new clean not be up to standard, then you will be hiring a proprietary cleaning company, and she will be liable for the cost of this. If she thinks that she wont manage to do this anyway, then she may just get you to go ahead and do it.
                          Any posts by myself are my opinion ONLY. They should never be taken as correct or factual without confirmation from a legal professional. All information is given without prejudice or liability.

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                          • #14
                            There's actually no requirement for you to have let her accompany you on the 'check-out' anyway; provided you were happy you had all your ducks in a row with regard to proving the state of cleanliness now versus the state at move-in, you could have simply sent her a copy of the cleaner's invoice when you returned the balance of her deposit, having deducted the cleaner cost.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Ericthelobster View Post
                              ... you could have simply sent her a copy of the cleaner's invoice when you returned the balance of her deposit, having deducted the cleaner cost.
                              If Lizzy herself spends, say, 8 hours cleaning the place to get it back to acceptable standards, can she deduct a reasonable fee for her time from the deposit or would she have to provide an invoice for the work done by someone else? The problem is that if she does it herself does the court make allowances for that effort? If the courts don't accept a landlord doing something is the same as a "professional" cleaning company, she could end up out of pocket or at least she will have spent her time doing something that she wouldn't be paid for.

                              Answers please, in case the tenant decides to go to small claims to get back the deductions. (And I'm interested in the answer as well!)

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