When we think of what happens at the end of a tenancy, our common hope is for it all to go smoothly.
Tenants want to move without much hassle or worry and get their deposit back quickly. Landlords want to get a new tenant in place quickly with ease.
Tenants end around 90% of tenancies, with the majority of the remaining 10% due to rent arrears. Whatever the reason, there are a few options that, as a landlord, you must consider when a tenancy comes to an end.
Your tenancy agreement should stipulate the notice period your tenant must give you if they intend to move. If it’s outside a fixed-term contract, the tenant must provide one month’s notice. Inside a fixed-term, the tenant doesn’t have to serve notice by law but remains responsible for the rent until the last day of the fixed term. However, if your tenancy agreement says that the tenant should give notice, you may be able to make a claim for breach of contract. Regardless, it’s always advisable to send them a reminder before the fixed term ends, giving them time to decide if they do wish to remain or give notice.
When your tenant has informed you of their intent to leave the property, send them a list of everything that needs to be done in order for them to get their deposit back. Some of this may seem like common sense to you. However, it’s a good idea to make sure your tenant is on the same page and knows everything you expect of them. This list could include the replacement of any blown lightbulbs, cleaning windows and floors, the removal of any rubbish, and anything else that may relate to your specific property.
Viewings can vary depending on if you use an estate agent and the extent to which you use them. If you use them to let your property, then they should arrange timings with potential tenants. Remember, the current tenant still has the right to quiet enjoyment in the property and can refuse entry. If you’ve maintained a good relationship with the tenant, that’s unlikely to happen. In any case, as with any visit, you must provide at least 24 hours’ notice before conducting a viewing. You may need to talk to the current tenant in advance to ensure they’re happy with potential dates and times. They may wish to be present at the viewing, which can prevent any disputes about damage and missing property.
At the end of the tenancy, carry out a checkout report to ensure the property is still in good condition. Allow for fair wear and tear, and refer to the inventory agreed when the tenancy began. It’s best to do this once they have fully vacated the property. Also, the tenant should be present if possible. This way, any damages can be noted and agreed – with the tenant’s signature. Taking photos can help to provide additional evidence but shouldn’t be relied on alone. You’ll also need to take meter readings and get a statement from the utility suppliers (if the tenant was responsible for paying utilities) showing a zero balance.
If everything is in order, then make sure you get the deposit returned to your tenant as soon as possible. In case they send you a written request for the return of their deposit, you must respond within 10 days. If you intend to keep part or all of the deposit, you must provide a reason for this. It’s also beneficial to provide evidence as this may prevent the tenant from disputing this.