Way back last August, I did a post on checkin procedures. This post is about the other end of the tenancy where you are supposed to have a check out meeting with your landlord or landlords agent or inventory clerk, to check the condition of the property.
I was prompted to write this post by a question received for my Landlord Law Q and A section. The questioner complained that, having refused to have a checkout meeting, the letting agent, for what is believed to be malicious reasons, tried to charge the tenant for damage which she was not responsible for.
It is generally considered important for both landlords and tenants that at the time the tenant moves out (or shortly before) a checkout meeting take place where the property is inspected. If this is not done it will be difficult for both sides to state with any accuracy, what the condition of the property was at the end of the tenancy.
It is important to know this, particularly if the landlord wants to make deductions from the deposit.
If a landlord is to succeed in any claim they will need to prove
- that the damage occurred
- that it was done by the tenant (ie not after the tenant moved out) and
- that it cannot be put down to fair wear and tear
If there is no checkout meeting, then the tenant can, with some justification, say that the property was in good condition when they moved out and that the damage must have been done later. The landlord may find it hard to refute this without a checkout report signed by both parties.
However if you are in the position of the lady in my Q and A post, where the landlord / agent simply refuses to arrange a checkout meeting, it is a good idea to keep a record of the condition of the property just in case. There are a number of things you can do:
- check the property against the inventory with someone independent who can give evidence later, if needed, on your behalf
- take photographs with one of the those cameras which gives the date the photo was taken
- Take a video of the property showing clearly it is perfect condition!
Although tenants are always in the stronger position in tenancy deposit arbitration’s, as they do after all own the deposit money, there is no harm in doing as much as possible to protect your position. Particularly if you think that the landlord or agent may seek to make a false claim.
Do you have any suggestions about how tenants in this position can protect themselves?