Tenancy check-outs and security deposit returns

Most properties have a professional inventory and check-in carried out at the commencement of each new tenancy.  My job is to deal with the tenants when the are vacating and to organise and assess the inventory check-out reports once the property has been inspected by an Inventory Clerk.  Where we fully manage the property, part of the service provided at the check-out includes a ‘pre check-out inspection’ which I carry out a few weeks before the end of the tenancy and the actual check-out appointment.

This inspection is designed purely to give the tenant advice on how to leave the property to ensure the maximum return of their deposit in the quickest time possible.  I will take a brief look around and advise whether I feel that any works are required or items to be re-positioned or replaced, in line with the in-going inventory.  Obviously the inventory check-in and in-going schedule of condition are the reports that the inventory clerk will be using to work from at the check-out appointment, so to save time and effort AFTER THE EVENT I am offering to help speed up the process by telling the tenants what, in my professional (ARLA qualified) opinion, will be pointed out at the check-out by the Clerk.

I recently carried out an inspection and the tenant was under the misperception that I was going to do the check-out completely prior to the actual check-out…. THIS IS NOT THE CASE!  I quickly explained that I am only offering a guideline and trying to minimise works which will probably come up on the check-out report, unless they are attended to prior to vacating.  For instance, many tenants think that the check-out happens and then they can go back in and give the place a clean, or replace the lightbulbs, empty the bins etc.  It must be understood that when the Inventory Clerk carries out the official check-out the keys are handed to her/him and that is it, no more ‘popping back to finalise things’!  Whatever is listed on that check-out report will be charged for (subject to quotations and agreement).    The fewer deductions that are listed on the check-out report, the easier my job is to finalise the deposit return and the quicker the deposit money can be returned:  Especially helpful if the out-going tenant is moving to another rental and needs to find a further deposit for the new place.

So I go through the most common decutions such as:

  • Cleaning, oven cleaning, carpet cleaning
  • Making good picture hooks and repainting walls if needed (not just a blob of paint over the hole mind you!)
  • Returning furniture to the original position as listed on the inventory
  • Changing blown light-bulbs
  • Removing rubbish (not just putting it out for bin-day
  • Cutting the lawn
  • Redirecting post

My visit gives the tenant the opportunity to ask any questions for anything they are unsure about or they can report anything which they have failed to report but would need attention before a new tenant moves in.

Some tenants will take my advice and the deposit can be returned within a few days of vacating because there are no or only a few deductions required.  When my advice is not taken it invariably leads to a list of items which I need to obtain quotations for and this causes delays which could easily be avoided.  I cannot believe how many times a tenant questions the quoted cost of ‘changing a lightbulb’ when they could have easily done this small task themselves and now I have to organise a contractor and pay their call-out fee to do the job instead.  The same applies to putting furniture back in it’s original position or removing black bags to the dump – a contractor will not do these jobs for nothing and I have to organise someone to visit – it costs money which the outgoing tenant will be changed for!

At my inspection visit I can offer a list of good reliable contractors which the outgoing tenant can call for quotations for any jobs I suggest should be carried out.  It is a very simple process and these pre-inspection visits are for everyone’s benefit, totally unbiased and will certainly speed up the check-out process – but not be in place of it.

For any landlords or tenants who do not have a tenancy managed by Sewell & Gardner, I am happy to offer my advice or to organise a property inspection, subject to fee.  For more information or to book an appointment for me to visit, please do not hesitate to email me at or telephone in the morning on 01923 721900.

So just to clarify, the Inventory Check-in & Schedule of Condition is the main document to be used to ascertain any deductions to be made at Check-out, in accordance with the clerk’s visit upon or the day after vacating the property.  My Pre-check-out visit is to guide the tenant to carry out required works PRIOR to check-out, in order to speed up the return of the deposit and help to ensure that deductions are as minimal as possible.  I do not deduct money from the deposit..!!






Claire Rogers

Claire Rogers of Sewell & Gardner