Sometimes deposit disputes occur and it’s important to make sure that you have the right evidence ready to prove your case. The tenants’ deposit is the tenants’ money so, if you want to claim for cleaning costs, damages or unpaid rent, then you need to prove that the deduction is reasonable.
Evidence can be presented in the form of a number of different documents, photographs, receipts, etc. A thorough and robust check-in and check-out process can go a long way in ensuring you are prepared for a deposit dispute.
So, what are the stages of a check-in and check-out process?
Walking your tenant through the property at the start of the tenancy means that you can set the standard at which the property should be maintained during the tenancy and returned at the end. It also gives you the opportunity to make it clear when the rent should be paid, how appliances work and any other information which will make their stay enjoyable and offer you the peace of mind that they are aware of their obligations.
The inventory is an important part of the check-in process and is key document if there is a deposit dispute. Make sure that it is comprehensive, detailed, unbiased and of a professional standard which could mean that you use an independent inventory company to complete the process.
Leave your contact details for your tenant so that they are able to contact should they have any initial problems or questions. Being easily contactable goes someway to building relationships with your tenant and could help if there are any deductions to the deposit at the end of the tenancy.
During the tenancy
Carry out regular inspections of your property so that you are able to pick up on any issues or problems before they become serious, but always remember to inform your tenant well in advance if you plan to visit your property.
Carrying out an inspection 1 month prior to the tenant vacating the property lets you identify any issues and will give the tenant adequate time to address them, again reducing the possibility of deposit deductions.
Reminding your tenants of their responsibilities at least two weeks prior to check-out will give them adequate time to prepare what you need them to do. Once they have moved out or on the day that they vacate, the property should be assessed and compared to the inventory and check-in reports from the start of the tenancy to see if there is any damage. If there are any dilapidations, that aren’t due to fair wear and tear, then you should note these down and take photographs. This could be used as evidence should a dispute arise.
Discuss with you tenant if you are considering any deposit deductions which, if you reach an agreement, can avoid a dispute.