So, you've had a tenant in your property, and they're either due to, or already have moved out.
As we mentioned in our Inventory Check-In Report article, you'll be wanting it returned in a fair condition, and having a check-in report to refer to will be imperative to distinguish whether there is an unreasonable decline in condition during their tenancy.
A documented report that records the condition of the property as a tenant leaves it, to make notes and take evidence - such as photographs - to determine whether in their tenancy they've kept it in a reasonable standard, or whether the condition has deteriorated beyond what is classed acceptable.
A property you've put out on rent has been done to generate a source of income, and what you want to avoid are any surprise costs that dents your profit margin.
Conducting a thorough check-out report will go hand-in-hand with your check-in report, so in the unlikely circumstance you need to claim for damages from a tenancy deposit, you'll have concrete evidence to support your claim and the findings behind it.
If it falls to an adjudicator to oversee the case and make a final ruling, they'll be looking to see all the evidence correlates, is clear, time and date-stamped, and is showing a clear shift in condition.
An adjudicator is an unbiased third party that decides if to award your claim or to reject your claim if he deems it baseless. All adjudicators are legally qualified and very well-versed to come to a fair decision. His decision is final, so if you make a claim again your tenant it is critical that you get your claim robust the first time around. You want to be able to prove to the adjudicator very clearly what the condition of the property was like before and after so that it is very clear that the tenant is responsible for any damage caused during the time the tenant lived there.
Just as an Inventory Check-In Report, you'll have various ways you can choose from to document the condition of the property.
Some ways of documenting are better than others, we'd suggest a combination of a report-style document, together with photographs being annotated, as well as a short video summarising the overall condition of the property. Utilizing these three sources of information will be a little more time-consuming, but in case you need to refer back to it, it'll definitely prove it's worth if done correctly.
To eliminate the need of repeating myself, a check-out is identical to a check-in inventory!
The burning difference is that you'll be a lot more conscious of a decline in condition, looking out for areas of concern and damage. The best way to monitor this is to familiarise yourself with the check-in document before you head to the property to conduct the check-out.
This'll help give you a rough idea of the condition before they moved in, and help you make an informed judgement whilst you're there of where to focus your efforts.
The 9 things have been discussed in detail on our Inventory Check-In Report article, check on the link to refer to it!
Remember, if you're in a dispute, you want there to be no shadow of doubt regarding the condition of the property before and after the tenancy. If an adjudicator is involved then remember that you are trying to convince someone who doesn't know anything about the property, they'll be a fresh pair of eyes, and is only deciding based on what they can see, and not based on what they are told. If it comes to it, having all the proof evidenced in a document is the best way to strengthen your case.
Wear and tear is the deterioration of an item or an area, due to its age and general use.
So, looking to make deductions from a tenancy deposit should only be done if the damage was avoidable, and due a tenants action or omissions. Not from simply living in the property.
There is one thing that's certain, and it's that everything will have a lifespan with a view of needing to be replaced or renewed at some point. Any damage found should be related to this, 15+ year old carpet that's frayed, discoloured, and is loose at the edges, will have seen better days and it's expected that it should be replaced due how long ago it was laid.
This should give you a good idea of the foundations needed in a Check-Out Report, and the reasoning for why it should be so incredibly detailed and thoroughly finished.
You may be reading this thinking 'I haven't done most of these points for a check-in report, have I shot myself in the foot?'. Not necessarily, you know this information now, and it's recommended you do a mid-term inspection to assess how your tenants are looking after the property anyway. So, look to conduct a thorough report on your inspection visit, so on their departure, if the condition deteriorates any further you can be sure you did what you could to cover yourself.
Further to completing your check-out, it'll be time to have both the check-in and check-out reports side-by-side, going from room to room to give you an idea of whether any aspect of the properties condition has declined, and if so, in what way, to what extent, and finally to determine whether it is written off as wear and tear, or whether it results in a conversation to have with your tenant to ask them to pay for repairs or deduct from their tenancy deposit.
With any findings, approach your tenants calmly and discuss your concerns whilst referring to clear evidence of the shift in condition from before, to after their tenancy. You'll want evidence to back-up anything you refer to. In the unlikely case they're not accepting of your findings, refer to your deposit protection scheme to make deductions from the deposit, and escalate it to an adjudicator if necessary.
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