Checklist of What to Do at the End of the Tenancy
When the tenancy has ended, the following should be considered:
The notice to quit from the tenant
Ensure the notice to quit provided by the tenant is valid. As a quick guide, the notice may not expire during the fixed term, and their notice must be at least four weeks in length (one calendar month where the rent is monthly) and expire either the day before the rent is due or on the day the rent is due. No other date is acceptable.
A landlord can accept an invalid notice, so you can receive a notice during the fixed term or one that doesn’t expire on the proper date (or is short).
Full details about a tenant’s notice to quit can be found here (England only).
The most important aspect of ending the tenancy is having the keys returned. A tenancy continues whilst the tenant intends to return within a reasonable period. This means even if they are not physically sleeping at the property, they still have a tenancy whilst they intend to return. If the keys are handed back, there can be no intention to return them because they don't have any keys! That's why they are so important. If you like, you could issue a receipt for the keys in writing - a simple one-line letter addressed to the tenant saying, "I confirm you have returned the keys to me on XXXX" or similar will suffice. Make sure you keep a copy!
Inventory and deposit
Where possible, always go through the inventory with the tenant present and ideally agree on all issues at that meeting.
If you do the inventory without the tenant, they could argue the damage was not like that on the day they vacated. The new deposit regime makes it exceptionally difficult to recover any amount of deposit for landlords or agents.
Therefore, the top advice is to get a complete agreement about dilapidations at the meeting. If there is disagreement about deductions from the deposit, you are not bound to use the schemes dispute resolution. Although it may be free of charge, it will often go the tenant's way. It may be worth considering the courts, mainly if there is more than the value of the deposit being disputed.
You can contact us to discuss which option is best for you.
Fair wear and tear is tough to determine because it’s very case-specific, but it has been defined as “natural forces” creating the dilapidation. So, a worn carpet to where the sofa sits is fair wear and tear, but the cigarette burn isn’t.
Landlords used to be entitled to a 10% tax deduction on furnished properties as a “fair wear and tear allowance”. Hence, there is a good argument that once a carpet or other item reaches ten years old, the landlord has been paid in full for the rug (by way of tax allowance), so no further sum could be recovered from the tenant. We don’t necessarily agree with that formula and in no way is that a legal definition of fair wear and tear, but it does provide a quick thought in landlords' minds as to how much could be considered appropriate.
The deposit should be repaid as quickly as possible. If it hasn’t been refunded within ten days, the tenant can claim the appropriate deposit scheme.
Utilities and services
You will generally notify the utilities and council tax when you put new tenants into the property. At the same time, the previous tenants can be confirmed as vacating. In respect of gas and electricity, during any empty period in-between lets, landlords will be on “deemed contracts” with the companies and liable for any empty period in-between lets.
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