Owning a property isn’t as luxurious as it may seem. It’s actually a lot of hard work and endless responsibilities. Between fixing every pipe and AC that malfunctions, and tending to the garden and aesthetic aspects of the place, you find yourself overwhelmed with a million things to do. It naturally doesn’t make things easier if you’re leasing the property, because you then have the problems that come with tenants to deal with. One angle you’ll need to focus on is the end of the tenancy phase because there are some things you’ll need to carefully check before you can give the tenant their security deposit back.
First of all, you’ll need to do an inventory of the entire property, twice actually. The first time you have to do it will be before you rent it to any person, so you could make a comparison when it’s time for them to move out. The inventory isn’t just about the number of items you have in the place; it’s also about the condition of those items. We’re talking walls, ceilings, paint, cupboards, doors, furniture, the garden, and basically everything else. You have to document the condition of each of those items before anybody moves in because you’re going to do an inspection to make sure everything is in good condition before you can give the tenant their security deposit back.
Are there any new holes in the walls? Do the doors have any dents or loose knobs? Are there cat scratches on the couch? Are the windows intact? It is questions like these that you’ll need to ask yourself before you can let the tenant move out with their security deposit.
Now that you’ve made sure that everything is in place, and there is no obvious damage around, you’ll start getting into the heavier objects. You can’t just be content that the washing machine, oven, ACs, and so on are in place. You have to inspect the condition of those appliances to make sure they’re in good condition and no damage has been inflicted on any of them. Open the oven and make sure it’s on, and turn on the ACs for extended periods of time until you’re certain they’re in the same condition that you handed them over in.
This is one angle you’ll need to be thorough with as well, because tenants sometimes make a mess of things, and it’s possible that fixing or cleaning that mess would cost you a lot of money. Generally speaking, if the tenant handed over the property without properly cleaning it, this should be a red flag. Professional cleaners from Royal Cleaning explain the importance of end of tenancy cleaning is that it’s not just wiping the floors with your average detergents. It needs proper cleaning done by professionals that have the best equipment and materials in the market. If the tenant doesn’t do that much thorough of a clean before they leave, then you can rest assured you’ll be forced to do it yourself out of your own pocket.
The last thing you want is to find out that you have a blocked drain after the tenant has moved out. Some people have some awful habits like flushing oil, fat, or food down the drain, which can cause a massive blockage and make your life and that of the tenants to come a lot harder. The problem with this particular point is the fact that you won’t discover the blockage unless you check for it before the tenant leaves. So, always flush the toilets to make sure it’s working normally, and let taps and shower water run for quite a while to make sure there are no blockages. Fixing blocked drains can be quite pricey, and if it’s the tenants’ fault, then they should be the ones to pay for it.
It goes without saying that you should ensure that all bills are paid before you return the security deposit. You definitely don’t want the tenant to move out only to be surprised a week later that you’re hit with a thousand dollar cable bill. So, ask them to provide proof that they’ve taken care of all utility and maintenance bills around the place.
Sometimes tenants like to make somewhat drastic changes to the property. That includes anything from repainting the living room to changing the closets. If you approved such changes before they happened, you need to instruct them on what you want to do before they move out. You’ll either keep the changes –– based on prior agreement between you two –– or you’ll ask them to return the place to its original condition. In any case, you have to inspect for any drastic changes that are the tenant’s responsibility and make sure they’ve reversed them.
- Check under the furniture! You’d be surprised at the lengths people would go to hide a stain on a rug or scratched floors. Always check under sofas and chairs, and make sure there aren’t any hidden problems.
- Make sure you have all sets of keys to the place before you give back the deposit, and if any of the keys are lost, have the tenant pay for changing the locks. It’s an unnecessary expense that you shouldn’t pay for.
- Document everything you do, and have the tenant around for your inspection so they wouldn’t claim you damaged the property yourself to scam them out of money. And always keep a record of your first inspection before they moved in, so you’d have proof of the condition of the place before their tenancy.
It is important to deal in good faith at the end of a person’s tenancy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take your precautions. You’re just making sure you won’t be paying any expenses that are not yours to pay. This way you’re guaranteeing your rights, as well as those of this tenant and the ones after them. You’ll most likely be having future tenants after the current one, so it’s important that the property is in excellent condition since other people will be living there.