5.1 Practical Tips For A Pain-Free End Of Tenancy Handover
The golden rule is: be prepared. If the tenancy is for a fixed term, make a diary note straightaway of when the tenancy is due to end, and another date around two months before that. Where appropriate, contact the tenant to see if they plan to leave. If the tenant is going to leave, there are a number of practical matters that the landlord can help trigger which make for a smooth ending to a tenancy:
arranging a joint inspection of the property to agree on any damage that needs rectifying or decoration that might need undertaking. Landlords should take a checklist with them
providing information about the cleaning required to return the property in an acceptable condition (it is often worth reminding the tenant of their obligations)
advising the tenant about taking final utility readings and liaising with suppliers about issuing and paying final bills making arrangements for the handover of any keys arranging access for prospective tenants if applicable.
The more attention that is paid to ending the tenancy in an orderly manner the less likely it is that there will be any problems or misunderstanding about how the tenancy can best come to an end. It is usually a good idea to confirm anything that is agreed with the tenant in writing. Follow up any problems as quickly as possible – and record them in writing.
If the tenant does not hand the property back in the condition required by the tenancy agreement, the landlord may be entitled to make a charge against the deposit. Chapter 3 of this manual deals with returning tenants’ deposits and claiming deductions. The adjudication services operated by the tenancy deposit protection schemes rely heavily on comparisons of check-in and check-out reports, so the better the quality of any check-in and check-out reports, the more likely it is that the proposed deposit deduction will be awarded to the landlord. Make sure that all photographs are clearly labelled and dated.
If the accounts for gas, electricity, water and telephone are in the name of the tenant, then the payment of these bills is a matter between the tenant and the supplier, and the supplier cannot require the landlord to pay (except certain water bills mainly in Wales – see chapter 3). When the tenant moves in the landlord should notify all the suppliers of the name of the new tenant and the date when the tenancy started. Some tenancy agreements state that tenants must not change the utility suppliers during the tenancy (this is most likely an unfair term and unenforceable); other tenancy agreements state that tenants must notify the landlord of the new supplier and the account number if they change utility provider. Landlords can then contact the utility provider easily at the end of the tenancy.
Landlords need to pay the bills for any services used during a void period. As there are so many different suppliers, it is helpful to notify the new tenant of the name of the existing suppliers if known.
If the gas or electricity company is trying to charge the landlord when they have been notified of the name of the new consumer (tenant), information about how to proceed can be obtained from www.consumerfocus.org.uk which also gives information on how to make an energy-related complaint. Landlords can also call Consumer Direct on 0845 04 05 06 for consumer advice.