A Guide to Tenancy Check-In and Check-Out
Check-ins and check-outs are an essential part of the inventory process for both landlords and tenants. The landlord or agent should visit the property with their new tenants so that both parties are aware of the property’s condition; this is known as the check-in.
Checking out is another joint observation of the property’s condition but takes place at the end of the tenancy. The check-out endeavours to ascertain whether anything has changed. These appraisals are taken down in writing to form check in and check out reports, which are vital for settling any potential disputes down the line.
Who conducts the tenancy check-in and check-out?
It’s in a landlord’s best interest to make sure an inventory is conducted.
At the very least, the landlord should conduct some form of inventory check in themselves, but to ensure a fair, non-biased inventory report for both landlord and tenant, it is recommended to hire a professional third-party agency to perform the inspections.
Landlords may be property owners, but they are not necessarily property management professionals, and may not look for the right things when assessing their property for damage prior to a tenant moving in, which can result in an unsuccessful damage claim at the end of that tenancy.
Tenants also benefit from the involvement of a third-party agency, which gives them peace of mind that the landlord isn’t trying to benefit from a likely damage down the line that can be blamed on the tenants.
Tenants do not need to be present when the inspections are taking place, although it is in the tenant’s best interest to do so. However, both the tenant and landlord should sign the inventory report, after the check in and check out inspections, once they have read it and checked for any inaccuracies.
What’s included in the check-in report?
This first step of creating an inventory is usually completed before the tenant has begun moving into the property. This ensures that the process of moving furniture or other larger belongings has not altered the condition of the property in any way.
At the end of the inspection, an inventory report should be produced. This will contain an overall description of the state of the property, as well as a list of the property’s fittings and fixtures and their conditions. This will likely be organised in a logical fashion, with room-by-room analyses that follow the general layout of the property. In addition to permanent fixtures, any meter readings should be recorded and pictures taken of any keys for the property.
Ideally, the level of cleanliness will be outlined, with as much detail as possible. For instance, if the property has been cleaned professionally, this should be reflected in the report. You might also find that certain reports apply a ‘good condition’ blanket on all of the interiors, which only changes if the condition is anything other than ‘good.’
If you (as a landlord or tenant) are not comfortable with this blanket term, discuss this with the person conducting the check in. As is always the case with inventory reports, the more details you can provide, the better. Photos are also helpful, but they should always be accompanied by highly detailed descriptions.
What’s included in the check-out report?
During the check-out, the agency (or landlord) will use the check in report to compare the property’s current overall condition and the state of its contents with those at the beginning of the tenancy.
For the sake of clarity, the same person that carried out the check-in should be completing the check-out but this is not always possible, especially with large agencies where employees may be booked up or have left the company. The most important information to gain from the check out report is an outline of any damages the tenant is now responsible for.
The overall layout of the check out report is similar to that of the check in report, with a general description followed by a list of property fixtures, with the addition of comments added where necessary to outline any apparent changes. If meter readings were recorded and keys tracked in the check in, this should be completed for the check out report as well.
Why are check-ins and check-outs important?
As mentioned previously, check in and check out reports are a vital component of a good inventory. The last thing a landlord or tenants wants to experience is a deposit dispute. A thorough, detailed inventory can ensure neither party has to deal with the stress of settling a dispute or the potential of losing out on a large sum of money. If you’re a tenant and your landlord has not provided you with evidence of any inventories taking place, make sure you see this evidence as soon as possible so you can review it.