Changes in regulation on 13 May mean physical visits to properties in England are now possible as long as Government guidelines are followed. However, we know landlords still have questions about how best to complete a check-out during the ongoing pandemic.
We’re here to help you!
Do you need to return deposits to your student tenants now the academic year has ended? We’ve prepared a shortlist of five helpful hints to help you have a successful check-out.
1: Take date-stamped pictures for the check-out report
Date-stamped photographs or videos of the property’s condition on moving out will help to verify the check-out report, which in turn can help avoid a dispute and speed up the return of the deposit.
If you’re a landlord in Wales, where restrictions on house moves from occupied properties continue, consider asking your tenants to take videos and pictures for the check-out report on your behalf.
2: Share contact details with your tenants and stay in touch about the check-out report
Share your mobile number and email address with your tenants so you can easily contact each other throughout the process. It makes it much easier to discuss and agree the check-out report.
Don’t forget to keep copies of any communication. This could be useful evidence in a dispute.
3: Read the small print about cleaning
Around 63% of landlords who end up in a deposit dispute are claiming for cleaning. During the pandemic you may decide to organise a full professional clean after the tenant leaves the property. Depending on what your tenancy agreement requires, unless one took place before start of the tenancy, the tenant generally doesn’t have to cover the cost.
4: Deposit money isn’t a substitute for rent payments
If students have experienced problems paying their rent they might ask for their deposit money to be used to make up the shortfall, or to cover the final month’s rent before moving out. You should think carefully before agreeing to this as you may find you need to claim for more than just arrears.
If you’ve reduced a tenant’s rent during lockdown, you can’t make a claim from the deposit to make up the difference. However, if you offered a payment holiday, and confirmed to the tenant by email or letter that they must pay the deferred rent once the crisis is over, then you may be able to make a claim for this.
5: Problems compiling dispute evidence during lockdown?
Let us know immediately if you’re having problems compiling dispute evidence so we can help find a solution. For example, we may be able to allow an extension for evidence submissions.
These helpful hints are just one part of our full coronavirus guidance for landlords.