Tenants damaged the property? An inventory is the key to preventing financial loss.
Being a landlord isn’t always easy, and there are things that can go wrong throughout a tenancy, one of the things we see most regularly is a property that has been damaged (sometimes trashed) by tenants. Sometimes this is simple things, such as not leaving the property clean, sometimes it can be much bigger than that – carpets destroyed, doors removed, kitchen cabinets pulled off, rubbish piled high in the rooms, walls graffitied etc. Seeing your property in this state can be distressing and the financial impacts can be huge, so let’s discuss how to best protect yourself from the financial loss this can bring.
- Ensure you get a property inventory
When your new tenants check in, it is vital that you get a property inventory by an independent third party. The property inventory will detail the contents and condition of the property at the time the tenants move in. The tenants receive this document and have the opportunity to add any comments and sign it. This is then documented written proof of the state of the property at the time you handed it over to the tenants. This document can be used in court as proof that any damage present on the check-out, wasn’t the case upon check in.
- Get regular mid-term inspections
The importance of mid-term inspections is often overlooked, but it remains one of the key ways to identify if your property is being taken care of by your tenants. During a mid-term inspection, the inspector can get a feel for the way the property is going to be handed back, whether they are keeping it clean and tidy, if the walls have been kept clean and the carpets are taken care of. They also check for things such as smoking, pets or additional tenants in the property. Identifying these issues early will prevent them from becoming a bigger issue later on. It also gives an opportunity to identify any maintenance issues that need to be addressed.
- Book a check out report
The check our report should take place on the same day the tenants leave the property; it does not need to be completed by the same inspector who did the inventory check in but they will need to see the original check in document. The check out will directly compare the condition of the property when the tenants leave, to the condition on the day they moved in. This will clearly highlight any differences and give a suggestion as to who is liable for these discrepancies. The check out document then forms a basis for deposit deduction and can also be used in court if required.
To summarise, if you have a property inventory completed when the tenants check in, and again when they check out, you have written proof of any changes that have taken place throughout the tenancy that the tenants may be liable for, thus helping to minimise any financial loss that you may face. Without these documents, tenants can claim the property was handed to them in that condition and you have no formal proof to the contrary.