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When dealing with inspections or check-outs, if any discrepancies occur, it is always best to talk to your tenant before taking any action. Meeting your tenant gives you a chance to discuss what needs to be done, in order for the full deposit to be returned. If this is just better cleaning or a few minor repairs, then it gives the tenant a chance to undertake the work before leaving. However, it could be that repairs are needed or broken items need replacing. If this is the case, a face-to-face meeting allows you to explain step by step the work that needs to be done and also gives your tenant a chance to respond to any issues.

Obviously, you need to keep calm and have all the facts at your disposal. Before the meeting, make sure you know what you want to say and be prepared to negotiate. If you have reasons to make deductions from the deposit, then get those reasons clearly sorted out, along with any evidence, such as the contract, inventory or photographs. It may be that the problem can be sorted out reasonably, to avoid further disputes or the possibility of court action. Try not to be confrontational but stay calm and listen to your tenants, even when you do not agree with them. Before the meeting, think about any counter offers they could come up with and whether you would accept any of them. By trying to second guess your tenant, you have a good chance of keeping control of the situation and getting what you want. This also gives you a better chance of coming to an agreement. If you do reach an agreement, make sure you get everything in writing.

When going over the discrepancies with the tenant, you will need evidence. This is where specialist apps and software come into their own. Specialist inventory apps or property management apps mean you will have all the information at your disposal. On your phone or tablet, you can show the tenant the copy of the original contract, inventory and photographs of rooms or belongings. These can then be compared to the state of the property today. Once an agreement is made, this can also then be added immediately on the app and signed by both parties, so it is absolutely clear what has been agreed.

At the end of the day, the deposit is the tenant’s money and so you need strong grounds to prove why any deductions should be made. Any successful dispute needs to be based on solid evidence to support your claim. Also, the tenant will want to get all or most of the money back, in order to put down a deposit on another property. It is therefore in both your interests to sort out any problems as quickly as possible.

By appearing willing to compromise and having documents and photographic evidence to back up your claims, you are in a sound position to have the works or cleaning carried out to your satisfaction without a long, drawn-out dispute or court claim.