Whilst you can buy landlord insurance which covers damages caused by a tenant, a security deposit is also a form of insurance against extra costs that can be incurred when a tenant leaves your property. It is vital that when a tenant moves in you do a proper inventory, detailing items and their current state, on the list. The list must be signed by you and the tenant.
Any issues should be noted and agreed upon by both parties. This same list should then be used at check out time. With this in mind here are our top 10 essential checks before returning security deposits to tenants.
Checks Before Returning Security Deposit To Tenants
- General condition of walls and floors including stains or marks on carpets/flooring.
- Is the boiler and central heating working? Test it-even in summer! Can be a major expense if there are problems.
- Outside areas- clean and free of rubbish. Rubbish left can lead to vermin infestation and is a magnet for foxes.
- Check water runs freely through drains and plumbing and that there are no blockages.
- Do all doors and windows close properly? Check locks have not been changed. Are all window keys present if windows are double glazed? (You can change Yale lock barrels between tenants just in case tenants have had more keys cut without your knowledge. When they move out you can swap it for the previous old Yale barrel and keys.)
- Do all the appliances work, and are they clean? Especially dishwashers and washing machines. Blockages cause water leaks, in our experience most tenants never clean the washing machine or dishwasher filter.
- Check cellars, attics or garages if the property has them ( or balconies and gardens etc.)
- Are the kitchen cupboards cleaned inside and outside?
- Dirty oven & extractor fans can be a fire hazard if not cleaned regularly, make sure they are in good order.
- Sit on furniture to check for breakage.
Other Things To Check Before Returning Security Deposit
- Forward all post & check utilities are changed over or stopped, so you don’t get charged. Tenants in debt will often seek to leave debts behind at properties, you don’t want them chasing you for it as the landlord.
- It may sound odd, but check plants are not removed from the garden if there is one.
- Check with council re council tax obligations, you may be able to get empty property relief if it’s vacant for a while.
Remember, if there is a deposit dispute, the court can award up to three times the original deposit in damages to the tenant, so it is worth getting it right. Do not feel obliged to pay the tenant deposit back before they move out. Make it clear how long the wait for their deposit return will be.
Don’t be tempted to allow the last months rent in lieu of deposit so they can leave without you checking first. They wanted their deposit protected, these are rules you have to abide by as landlord. Tenants need to understand that.Lastly, don’t let the tenant talk you into keeping furniture or getting rid of stuff on their behalf. If it wasn’t there when they took on the property it should not be there when they leave.