The state of a property is by far the most common problem for landlords when conducting checking-out inspections. It seems as though tenants have a different view as to what constitutes cleanliness than their landlords or property managers.
Fair wear and tear remains a grey area and is a major reason for disputes at the end of a tenancy. But dirty properties now account for 58 per cent of disputes, according to data from the Tenant Deposit Scheme. This can lead to a formal Alternative Dispute Resolution service which can back the tenant if the landlord is not able to provide sufficient evidence to support the claim.
Landlords need to show evidence of the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy as well as at the end. This is where specialist software can help because landlords will have written – and even photographic – documentation in support of the check-in report and the check-out inspection.
The inventory management report will include details of the contents, including fixtures and fittings, and their condition. It can also show exactly what is expected of the tenant, with the requirement that they leave the property as clean as they found it written in to any agreements. That way a disagreement can be avoided, which could otherwise prove costly.
KS Property Rentals managing director Simon Smith said that cleanliness and removal of rubbish are behind at least 90 per cent of their deposit claims. But if landlords send them copies of the check-in and check-out reports, the firm can see the state of the property and remain fully aware of any cleaning issues. Documentary evidence should include the inside of the oven, fridges and freezers.
The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) says that the most common problems include ovens, which can be costly to have cleaned professionally; stained carpets; limescale in the bathrooms; grease deposits in the kitchen; thick dust; and cobwebs.
AIIC chair Pat Barber sums it up, saying that if a room or appliance was clean during check-in then it should be clean at check-out. At the check-out inspection, the landlord can point out any discrepancies and the possible cost of putting things right.
Professional cleaners can cost up to £20 per hour so it could be a significant expense for the tenant to bear. If possible, interim inspections should be held to point out any areas which are likely to be a problem so that the tenants can deal with them immediately rather than risking a dispute at the point at the end of the tenancy.