1. Sign and return your inventory
At the beginning of a tenancy tenants should be given an inventory - a document that records the condition of the property - from either their landlord or letting agent. The inventory is an impartial document, providing an unequivocal overview of every aspect of the property – from walls and woodwork, to furnishings – which allows the landlord or letting agent to directly compare the condition in which the property is returned at the end of the tenancy to that when it was originally let , which is crucial in deciding if any deposit deductions will be made. A good inventory includes overview photographs of each room, in addition to detailed photographs of every point noted, to make the comparison even more straightforward.
When moving in to a property it is crucial that tenants read through the inventory to check that they are happy that the condition recorded matches the actual condition of the property. Tenants can then mark up any discrepancies and return the document to the landlord or letting agent. It is good practice for the tenant to take photographs of any areas that they feel do not match the inventory.
When the time comes to check out of the property, the signed inventory is a useful tool for all parties, helping landlords to get their property back in the same condition it was let, and tenants to avoid unfair charges.
- Always keep a copy of your inventory for your records.
- Take your own photographs when you move into the property.
- Highlight any issues with your landlord or letting agent immediately.
2. Ventilate adequately throughout your tenancy
Condensation can be a big issue for Edinburgh tenants, especially during the colder winter months. Failing to adequately ventilate the property and allowing condensation to build up will lead to problems with damp, which can result in deposit deductions if the issue is deemed to have been caused by the actions of the tenant.
To minimise condensation, tenants should be careful to ventilate the property by opening windows, using an extractor fan (if available) and maintaining a minimum temperature. Condensation occurs during everyday tasks such as showering, cooking, and drying clothes.
- See here for tips to minimise condensation in your Edinburgh rental property.
- Your landlord or letting agent should provide advice on how to avoid condensation, if in doubt, ask for advice specific to your property.
3. Highlight any issues before you move out
Tenants have an obligation to their landlord to make them aware of any maintenance issues during their tenancy, especially in cases where the issue will continue to deteriorate and cause damage to the property if not addressed. However, some minor issues may be forgotten during the tenancy and not reported. The notice period at the end of the tenancy is the ideal time to deal with any of these smaller issues.
Using the inventory as a guide, tenants can make their landlord or letting agent aware of any issues ahead of checking out, giving time to have these rectified, and potentially avoiding unnecessary charges. For example, if tenants have broken a table, they may be able to have it repaired or replaced themselves before moving out, avoiding additional Handyman charges being deducted from their deposit for the same job. It is always best to discuss any damage with the letting agent or landlord beforehand.
Remember, tenants cannot be charged for fair wear and tear.
4. Use a professional cleaner
Inadequate cleaning is one of the most common reasons for tenants to have funds deducted from their deposit, it is also one of the most easily avoided. For the majority of properties the level of clean will be recorded in the inventory, and tenants are required to return the property with the same level of cleanliness. For example, if the property was professionally cleaned before the tenancy began, the tenants are obliged to have the property professionally cleaned when they move out. However, if the property was domestically cleaned, tenants can clean the property themselves, but it must be to the same standard, which is where issues can arise as the standard of clean can be subjective.
The easiest way for tenants to avoid cleaning charges is to use a professional cleaner. At Clan Gordon, we guarantee that tenants using our recommended cleaning company will not have any money deducted from their deposit for cleaning as we know the clean will meet our standards, and on the rare occasion that it does not, the cleaners will return to rectify any issues free of charge.
- In order to minimise costs, tenants can clean the property themselves first, leaving less to be done by a cleaning company, who usually charge per hour.
- Tenants should always retain a copy of the cleaning invoice, to prove that the clean has been done, in case of a dispute.
5. Remove all possessions
Another common reason for deposit deductions is when tenants leave their possessions in the property, which the landlord or letting agent then have to pay to have removed. Tenants who have been in a property for a long time may not remember if an item belonged to them or the landlord, this can be checked on the inventory or by asking the landlord or letting agent.
- Check back on the inventory to ensure that all items left in the property were there when you moved in or added by the landlord during the tenancy.
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