A Guide to Check In, Check Out and Inventories for Landlords
Even if, as a landlord, you have the fortune of landing ‘ideal’ tenants, it is inevitable that throughout their stay at your property, in one way or another, the state of your home will deteriorate, even if that is in the slightest of ways.
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These small changes to your property’s state caused simply through use and occupation are more commonly termed wear and tear. Wear and tear comes as a part of any tenancy, from flooring to the carpets, as well as other fixtures, decorations, walls, furniture and more.
Why are check-ins, check-outs and inventories important?
Reasonable, ‘fair’ wear and tear will be permitted by landlords and will not have to be reimbursed by the tenants at the end of their occupation. However, tenants will be liable at the end of their tenancy for any missing items, breakages, as well as substantial damage to the property, which will be considered as more serious than simple wear and tear.
In order to facilitate the process of keeping a landlord’s property and its interior in check, the use of a check-in, check out, and the upkeep of an inventory is essential. These as will be discussed below are essential for the maintenance of a rental property and aim to protect both tenants and landlords’ interests for the duration of a tenancy.
What is a check-in?
The check-in report of a property will usually happen as close to the tenancy’s start as possible. It should provide the tenant with a copy of the inventory as well as its contents, in addition to a schedule that looks at the condition of said property.
There are a number of ways to go about drafting a check-in report, which includes a very detailed report that lists all fixtures and contents of a property but can also come in a simplified form where the report will simply have a clause which submits all items being in good condition unless written otherwise.
The check-in report process will involve both the landlord and tenant and is a strict formality which will aim to determine the state of the home, and all the rooms within, so as to allow for both parties to come to a mutual agreement as to the state of the property at the start of the tenancy.
What is a check-out?
The check-out report of a property, in reliance on the check-in report of that same property, will be used to spot and point out any detriment or damage sustained by the property, its general condition and its contents.
More often than not, and for the sake of practicality, the check out should and will be carried out by the same individuals (ideally – the landlord and tenant). Ultimately the check out report is a comparative document which will identify any changes to the property in the form of damages and link the duty of resolving and repairing the issues onto the tenant.
How do I make check-in and check-out reports?
Although not requiring extreme detail, both reports will look to provide sufficient information to prevent disputes from arising in relation to the condition of the property and its contents.
A summative report that will look at a general description and the home’s overall condition and cleanliness will work best to start your reports. By default, the report’s main content will include greater detail, looking at the contents and condition of each room.
Photography and video can help provide evidence
The additional use of photography and video evidence can prove helpful to supplement the written check-in and check out reports. Photos alone will fail to describe the property in sufficient detail, as it would prove tedious to photograph every single element of the property. Furthermore, there are limits to using photos to convey the state of cleanliness of a property, and photographs can be digitally altered to give a misrepresentation of the true state of the property.
That being said, having a photo album to go alongside the check-in and check out reports will provide a fantastic overview of the property, whilst also being able to evidence external features of the property such as the driveway or garden, in addition to providing useful evidence of smaller damages, such as scratches and marks.
Make sure to issue the reports promptly
Ultimately both reports provide a practical and useful summary of the property at the time of their issuing. It is important to note that the reports should ideally be issued in short succession of the start and end of a tenancy, in order to hold them as credible sources of evidence for the condition of the property, as a lengthy delay between reports and the actual start and end of the tenancy can raise doubt and amount to disputes over the accuracy and legitimacy of the reports.
What is an inventory?
The inventory is an integral part of both reports and is a document used to compare the property’s condition at the beginning and end of a tenancy. The record is useful to see any changes, usually in the form of damage (and more significant than simple wear and tear) that the property and its contents have been subject to, and subsequently used to hold liable the tenant for any incurred damages.
It is in the landlord’s best interest and the tenant to have a detailed, comprehensive inventory as that will be the primary source of evidence used to settle any disputes that may arise over the state of the property at the end of the tenancy. At the start of the tenancy, the tenant will be allowed to look through the existing inventory and challenge any details that they could be in disagreement over.
Ultimately, therefore, the inventory has to be written with sufficient detail so as to be enough to rely upon to challenge any issues with the property, as opposed to relying upon memory or other factors.
What should be included in the inventory?
The process of completing an inventory itself will include listing in sufficient detail the state of various features of the property, including but not limited to:
- Outdoor features
- Special installations
The finalisation of the inventory at the start of the tenancy happens with the tenant’s agreement of the record of the property’s condition. It is terminated after the end of a tenancy by going through the property alongside the tenant and identifying any changes.
All in all, these proceeds are essential and need to be carried out at the start and end of any tenancy. They can help avoid significant disputes between the landlord and tenant that could otherwise potentially escalate into legal proceedings.