The checkout at the end of a tenancy is one of the most important parts of the moving out process, with a successful checkout able to reduce the chances of any deposit disputes occurring between you and your landlord.
When leaving your rental home behind, you’ll be eager to receive all of your deposit back, but what can give you the best chance of this being the case?
For landlords, the checkout provides a clear record of the state of the property, while for tenants it offers the opportunity to state a case for any damage caused during the tenancy that might affect how much deposit is returned.
Below, we offer a thorough insight into the checkout process to ensure you know exactly what to expect and to give you the best chance of getting your full deposit back.
What happens before checkout?
As part of the checkout process, your landlord should inform you of your precise responsibilities around two weeks in advance (unless otherwise stated in your tenancy agreement).
Your landlord is obliged to give you the opportunity to be present at the checkout stage of your tenancy, and it’s strongly recommended that you do attend.
Before this point, your landlord needs to let you know what you’ll have to do before leaving the property and what they’re expecting from you. If you remain unclear about your tenant responsibilities, you can turn to your tenancy agreement where these will be laid out in clear detail.
When moving into the property, you should have been provided with a copy of the inventory by your landlord. If you still have this at hand, and it’s recommended that you keep it safe, it can be a great tool to utilise at the end of a tenancy. If you don’t have a copy any longer or were never given one in the first place, you can request another copy from your landlord.
This allows you to scrutinise the inventory for an accurate description of the property when you moved in, which then enables you to compare it to its current state and carry out any necessary work to restore it to its previous condition.
As well as cleaning the property thoroughly before checkout, there are a number of other steps you should take to improve your chances of receiving your deposit back in full. These include:
- Making sure that all light bulbs are working
- Defrosting the freezer
- Removing all remaining food containers from cupboards, fridges and freezers
- Informing your internet/TV service providers that you’re moving
- Asking for your post to be redirected – something that can arranged at your local Post Office
- Ensure all items are where they were when you first moved in, and are as described in the inventory
In addition, if your rental home has a garden, you should make sure that you’ve cut the grass, de-weeded and left the garden in a good, tidy condition for future tenants.
You also need to make sure that all utility bills (including council tax) are paid in full and, if you have any furniture or white goods that you’re not planning to take with you, you need to ensure these are disposed of safely and not left in the property. If you’re unsure how to go about doing this, contact your local environmental services department for advice, tips, help and more information.
Money saving tip: Your tenancy agreement should detail if you or your landlord are responsible for paying for the gas or electricity. You don't necessarily have stick with your landlord's choice of energy supplier for your new home, as a tenant you can shop around to get yourself the best deals on your. Using a comparison tool that looks at the whole of the market could help you save money.
What happens during checkout?
As mentioned above, it’s strongly recommended that you attend – or at the very least get a close family member or friend to attend on your behalf.
The process itself should go fairly smoothly, provided you’ve carried out any necessary repair works and left the property in the same condition as when you first moved in.
Your landlord will use the checkout to closely inspect the rental property for any damage, as well as examining its cleanliness and overall condition. They’ll use the inventory they created during check-in to cross-reference and see in clear detail whether the condition of the property has altered.
If the property has suffered any dilapidations, or if there have been any changes to its overall condition, your landlord will note these against the inventory.
While doing this, your landlord must take into consideration what’s known as ‘fair wear and tear’ – even more so if you’ve been living as a tenant in the home for a long time.
Landlords will expect items to change over time based on their age and usage, but damage such as chips, rips or burns is in a different category and wouldn’t count as ‘fair wear and tear’.
Once your landlord has completed the checkout, they’ll complete a checkout report – comparing the current state of the property to how it is described in the original inventory. There should be no deductions from your deposit if you’ve left the property clean and in the same state as when you first moved in. In these instances, you and your landlord can sign and date the form right there and then, confirming that no deductions will be made. You can both move on, happy that your tenancy has been resolved amicably.
However, if there are issues with the condition of your property, and your landlord wishes to make any deductions, now is the time when they will tell you about this. They will inform you what they are deducting and their reason for deducting this amount.
You can, at this stage, either accept their conclusions, reject it and appeal, or come to a mutual agreement. If you either come to an agreement or accept their conclusions, this can be marked on the signed and dated form.
If, however, you opt to dispute the return of your deposit, then your tenancy deposit protection scheme offers a free dispute resolution service. In this case, though, both you and your landlord will have to agree to going down this avenue.
You’ll both be asked to provide evidence, with the decision they make about your deposit being final. This is a good means of redress if you feel deductions have been made wrongfully, but you also need to ensure you have a valid case before taking these steps.
No more charges for inventories
As a result of the Tenant Fees Act, in force from June 1 2019, landlords and letting agents will no longer be able to charge a fee for inventories.
This might make landlords and letting agents more reluctant to carry one out, if they can’t recover their costs from the tenant, but you should push for an inventory to be conducted during the check-in process to reduce the chances of disputes and issues at a later date.
It’s also important to adhere fully to the inventory process to give yourself a better chance of receiving your deposit back in full, which will help to make the process of moving to a new home easier.
Alongside bans on upfront fees for tenant referencing, inventories and admin charges, the Tenant Fees Act now also means there is a cap on security and holding deposits. When it comes to security deposits, they are now capped at five weeks’ rent for annual rentals below £50,000 and six weeks’ rent for rentals above £50,000.
You can find out more about how the Tenant Fees Act impacts tenants in our handy guide here.
Are you ready for your move?
Moving to a new home can be incredibly exciting but even if you’re only moving a relatively short distance or if you don’t have too many things, moving your stuff from A to B can be a pain. It’s still worth considering your removals options - especially if you need to use public transport or rely on a friend or family to help. AnyVan cover the whole of the UK and can offer instant quotes from a sofa to a full house move. With no hidden fees and handy functions like the ability to track your driver, using professional removals can help to take the stress out of moving.