A comprehensive guide to the checkout process

If you’re getting ready to move out of your rented home, then it’s more than likely that you’ve already started thinking about ways to ensure you receive all of your deposit back. Checkouts are important, and a successful checkout can reduce the chance of any deposit disputes. For landlords, it gives a clear record of the state of the property, and for tenants, it provides the opportunity to state a case for any damage caused during the tenancy.

Here, we give you a comprehensive guide to the checkout process, so you know exactly what to expect and you have the best chance of getting your full deposit back.

Before checkout

Your landlord will give you the opportunity to be present at the checkout stage of your tenancy, and we strongly recommend that you do attend. As part of this, they should let you know about your exact responsibilities two weeks in advance (unless otherwise stated in your tenancy agreement).

Your landlord should let you know what they’re expecting from you and what you’ll have to do before you depart the property. If you’re unsure about your responsibilities as a tenant, then you can also check your tenancy agreement, where these will be listed clearly.

You should have been given a copy of your inventory by your landlord when you moved into the property. If you still have this available, then it’s a great tool to use when moving out. If not, ask your landlord for another copy. This way, you can check the inventory for an accurate description of the property from when you moved in, so you can compare it to its current state and undertake any work necessary to restore it to its previous state.

Additionally, as well as cleaning the property, there’s a couple of other things you should do:

  • Ensure all items are where they were when you first moved in, and are as described in the inventory.
  • Make sure that all light bulbs are working. 
  • If you have a garden, cut the grass, de-weed and ensure that it’s left tidy. 
  • Defrost the freezer.
  • Remove all remaining food containers from freezers, fridges and cupboards. 
  • Ensure that all utility bills (including council tax) are paid in full. Your landlord should then check the meter readings upon checkout. To settle any final bills, they may ask you for a forwarding address. 
  • If you have a telephone line, then inform your service provider that you’re moving. 
  • Ask for all your post to be re-directed. You can arrange this at the post office.
  • If you have any furniture or white goods that you’re not planning to take with you, ensure that they’re disposed of safely, and don’t leave them in the property. If you’re unsure how, contact the Environmental Service Department.

At checkout

After completing any repair work and ensuring that the property is in the same state as it was when you first moved in, your checkout process should run relatively smoothly.

During checkout, your landlord will be inspecting the property for any damage, its overall condition, and its cleanliness. They’ll cross-reference this against the inventory to see whether the condition of the property has changed. If there are any changes to the condition of the property, or any dilapidations, then they’ll note these against the inventory.

In doing this, they’ll also take into account what’s known as ‘fair wear and tear’; especially if you’ve been a tenant for a long time. As such, they’ll expect items to change over time based on their age and usage. This is different to damage such as chips, rips or burns.

As soon as they’ve completed the checkout, they’ll complete a checkout report, comparing the property with the inventory. If your property is clean, and in the same state as when you first occupied it, then there should be no deductions from your deposit, meaning that you can both sign and date the form there and then, confirming as such.

If your landlord does wish to make any deductions, then this is the point that they will tell you. They should tell you what they are deducting and their reason for deducting this amount. At this point, you can either accept their conclusions, reject it and appeal, or come to a mutual agreement. If you either accept or come to an agreement, then this can be noted on the signed and dated form. If you do dispute the return of your deposit, then your tenancy deposit protection scheme will offer a free dispute resolution service, but both you and your landlord will have to agree to it. You’ll then both be asked to offer evidence, and the decision they make about your deposit is final.