Prevention is always better than cure so planning for your end of tenancy is key to avoiding any unexpected surprises and ensuring it goes as smoothly as possible for everyone involved.
Get notice from the tenant
Get in touch 6 weeks before the contract is due to expire to find out what your tenants’ intentions are. Are they looking to stay for another 6 month term or are they thinking of leaving? If they are leaving, make sure you have their notice in writing at least 4 weeks beforehand. This isn’t a legal requirement (if the tenancy is coming to the end of a fixed term) however you want to make sure you have enough time to plan.
Pre-end of tenancy property visit
Arranging a property visit before the tenancy ends can be beneficial if you are unsure of the condition and if you have any concerns the property may not be returned in the way you expect. It is a good opportunity to raise any concerns you have with the tenants about specific areas of the property. Putting this in writing formalises your expectations and gives the tenants the opportunity to remedy any problems in their last few weeks, avoiding costly deductions from their deposit.
The last few weeks of a tenancy are an ideal time to start marketing the property for let again as most contracts will allow for this. Always be courteous to the current tenants by letting them know when the property is being marketed and giving at least 24 hours’ notice for any viewings.
Set expectations and give instruction
A comprehensive end of tenancy letter outlining what you expect to be completed, such as cleaning of all windows internally, skirting boards, professionally cleaning the carpets (if this is part of their contract) etc, will go a long way in minimising any potential disputes in the future and avoid costly deductions from the deposit. Having the property returned in a good clean state will also mean you can get it re-tenanted more quickly too.
Re-send inventory/check in report to tenant
Send a copy of the original check in inventory report (which the tenants should have signed) with your end of tenancy letter is always a good idea so the tenants can directly refer to the condition of the property at the start of their tenancy. It also gives them the opportunity to discuss any questions they may have about your expectations prior to their check out meeting.
Get forwarding address (prior to end date)
Always get a forwarding address from your tenants before they leave, because once they have gone it can be very difficult keeping in contact. You will need a forwarding address to give to the utility companies in order to formally close their accounts and also to process their deposit back to them.
Book check out for the day they vacate (not before or weeks after, and don’t let anyone in beforehand, such as builders)
It is really important that the check-out is undertaken as quickly as possible from when the keys are surrendered back to the landlord. Should any significant time lapse then the tenants could claim that any dirt (dust etc) accumulated after they left. Similarly don’t let anyone have access to the property until the report has been undertaken otherwise it could be claimed that it was the other people entering who caused the damage.
Take meter readings, inform utilities & council tax
Ensure meter readings are taken on the last day of the tenancy to avoid any potential dispute as to what is owed on the utilities and by whom. Don’t rely on the tenants to close down their accounts fully; as the utilities will be going back into the landlord’s name it is advisable to make sure it is done correctly. Make enquiries with council tax to find out if you are eligible for a tax exemption period (for example unfurnished properties in Swansea currently are exempt from council tax for up to 6 months, however if the property is furnished then tax will be calculated on a daily rate!)
Inform your insurance company
In the small print of your policy, you will probably find a clause which stipulates you must inform them when the property is vacant and when a new tenancy has started. Failure to do so could invalidate a claim should you need to (such as storm damage in winter). Make sure you have your insurance company’s details to hand to inform them of your tenants’ departure as soon as possible.
Return deposit within 10 working days or propose deductions with supporting evidence
It is really important that within 10 working days of the end of tenancy date, you have either returned the tenants deposit back in full, communicated any deductions you wish to make with supporting evidence and return any undisputed amounts, or communicated with supporting evidence why you wish to claim the full amount of the tenants deposit. Failure to do this within 10 days can result in the tenant claiming their deposit back in full, regardless if you wish to make a claim or not.
For more information about how to have a smooth end of tenancy, or for a premier full management service which takes care of all your end of tenancy needs, contact the team at McCartan Lettings on 01792 430100