Check-Ins 1st Sep 2016

The check-in process is much more complex than you might imagine. It’s imperative that nothing in the process is missed or it could leave you exposed, and with no leg to stand on if you want to try and recoup costs from the deposit, or take any legal action against your tenant during or after the tenancy.

Prior to check in it is important to ensure that your property is spotless and well presented (internally and externally), and any necessary repairs have been seen to. You want your tenant to look after your property as if it were their own, therefore give them a good starting point to work from. It is essential you ensure all property regulations are being met, as there are hefty fines and criminal charges for non-compliance. The Key Place deals with all of this for our fully managed landlords.

I frequently reference inventories in The Key Place newsletters, and for good reason. The deposit is by law the tenant’s money. It does not belong to the landlord and should be returned to the tenant in full at the end of the tenancy. The landlord / agent needs to request deductions at the end of the tenancy if warranted. The tenant is seen as innocent, unless the landlord can prove otherwise.

The inventory ensures that any damage done during the tenancy can be clearly identified, and as such offers a level of protection to both parties. In practice, inventories are essential in order to provide evidence regarding the condition of the property and its contents at the start of a tenancy. Without an inventory, it is very unlikely a landlord would be awarded money from the deposit scheme to cover damage, cleaning costs, missing items etc. At check-out, the landlord / agent will establish whether any deductions are necessary. If possible, these should be agreed there and then with the tenant, as this may avoid going through a lengthy deposit dispute process later. The Key Place uses bespoke inventory software to provide detailed and accurate inventories embedded with photographs.

And so it’s move in day for the very excited tenants. However before giving out keys, it is essential that the deposit and rent are paid in full (The Key Place collects these on, or usually in advance of, check in day and issues a Standing Order mandate for future payments). There is then a huge amount of paperwork that needs to be completed. Current requirements are for all tenants to sign an AT5, a Tenancy Agreement, and a Tenant Information Pack (TIP) enclosing required safety certificates. This is not a straightforward process, as the AT5s MUST be signed prior to any signing of the Tenancy Agreements. The time of signing must be recorded. Moving onto the Tenancy Agreement, all pages must be signed as being read, and all signatures must be witnessed by the landlord or letting agent. If there are guarantors, they have to also sign the Tenancy Agreement. The Key Place sends the Tenancy Agreement to tenants/ guarantors in advance of check in to give them a chance to read it. Again the TIP must be signed and witnessed. If any of this is not done correctly, it will not hold up if, for any reason, you need to take legal action against your tenant. Housing benefit tenants carry their own requirements, for example Tenancy Agreements must be signed and stamped by the Council in order for payments to start.

Going back to the inventory, the majority of our landlords agree to us producing a detailed inventory for them. There are options of landlords producing their own inventory if they are confident with deposit scheme requirements, or having no inventory (a very high risk option as money cannot be recouped from the deposit if needs be at the end of the tenancy). If landlords do their own inventory, a copy of this should be given to the letting agent, so that it can be passed on to the tenant at check-in. Tenants have 7 days in which to come back with any comments.

Keys must be signed for by tenants and copies of all paperwork must be given to the tenants.

The Key Place gives all tenants a set of information notes at check in, which provides information about things like condensation, cleaning and gas safety. Some of our landlords produce helpful notes about their property for the tenants, with details about heating and alarm systems, where the stopcock and fuse box is etc.

After the above check in process is complete, The Key Place will inform utility suppliers and the council, giving tenant details, move in dates and meter readings where appropriate. The first inspection date will be logged in our diary.

The Key Place staff work from detailed checklists to ensure none of these steps are missed. This thorough process ensures tenants and landlords know where they stand, allowing the tenancy to get off on a good foot.

If you don’t feel confident in following this time consuming process yourself then get in touch with The Key Place now. We would be delighted to discuss our fully managed service with you.