Bad relationships between tenants and landlords are no good to anyone and nobody knows more about managing these landlord/tenant relationships than letting agents. So, we decided to ask for some advice from a few London rental experts on how they help their customers avoid disputes.
We asked 4 of the finest London letting agents in Fulham, Clapham, Westminster & Chelsea for their top tips on keeping things running smoothly at a private rental property.
First up, Paula Reclawowicz, Manager, Lockett Estates in Fulham says:
Advice For landlords:
“Landlords should always ensure that they have a detailed inventory report, ideally prepared by an independent professional inventory company. The inventory should fully describe all items and rooms in great detail along with photos. It is so important for landlords to do this as it is the only proof they hold against the deposit and potential damage caused. Every tenancy should start with an inventory check in and finish with an inventory check-out to avoid potential disputes. Another handy tip for landlords is to always keep receipts for items purchased during a tenancy and for any cleaning carried out prior.”
Tips for tenants:
“Tenants should always ensure that they hand a property over in a ‘reasonable state’ in accordance with their tenancy agreement (and subject to fair wear and tear) in order to have their full deposit returned quickly and without dispute.
Our tenancies usually require tenants to carry out the following:
- Ensure you have the property fully professionally cleaned by a professional company with necessary equipment, including windows and steam cleaning of the carpets and upholstery and including professional cleaning of all appliances, with receipts for all cleaning carried out available upon request.
- To arrange a gardener if required to put front and back gardens into seasonal order/or as at check-in.
- Not to use blue tac on the walls or make holes (to avoid charge from deposit for damage)
- To ensure all belongings are moved into original spots (all the items listed on the inventory are returned to the rooms where listed and that all personal items have been removed for check-out) to allow an easier check of the inventory at the end.
- To ensure that any maintenance issues are reported to the landlord or managing agent during the tenancy and prior to departure
With the new Tenant Fees Act, 2019, we make tenants aware that the property has to be returned in the condition in which they are handed it, allowing for fair wear and tear”
Next we spoke to Senior Lettings Negotiator, Umar Parkes (MARLA), also from Lockett Estates, Fulham, who imparted the following advice:
“Our letting agents offer two main pieces of advice to our landlords and tenants:
- Don’t let small issues become big problems: Bi-annual or sometimes quarterly inspections on properties are a great idea, making sure the landlord is aware of any issues in the property before they get out of hand.
- Honesty and communication are key: Good communication between the tenant, agent and landlord is paramount ensuring any issues are relayed from tenant to landlord or vice versa as soon as they’re raised to the agent. For instance, a tenant may spot an issue which would be the landlord’s responsibility to resolve. However, if they do not make the agent, or landlord aware of the issue they could end up liable for part of the cost.”
Elaine Thatcher (DMS MIRPM AssocRICS), Lettings Manager, Moretons in Westminster offered her take on things with the following recommendation:
“Something which people often don’t think of is insurance. This applies to both landlords and tenants.
If both parties take out appropriate insurance, i.e. tenants can take out accidental damage/contents insurance and landlords can take out specialist landlord insurance, both would come from a more relaxed place when it comes to any kind of dispute.
Knowing that you are covered financially in the event of any damage or discrepancy at the end of a tenancy takes away the main issue of the dispute – money – and therefore makes for a smoother check out process for all involved; landlords, tenants and the letting agent.”
Finally, we chatted with Emilia Wincenciak , Director, at Ted Hoskins, Clapham, who sends the following handy checklist to tenants every time there is a tenancy change:
“At Ted Hoskins lettings we have found that distributing the following information to our tenants before they check out of a property has a proven track record of assisting in a smooth transition for landlords and tenants alike.
Before checking out of a property, tenants should carry out the following:
- Soiled/stained carpets should be professionally cleaned.
- The property should be thoroughly cleaned and vacuumed including wiping out cupboards & wiping down paintwork & skirting, top of kitchen cupboards, top of doors & architraves & all kitchen equipment left clean, defrost freezer & freezer compartment.
- Clean soap dispensers & filters of washing machine & dishwasher (including the washing machine rubber around the drum.)
- Clean extractor fans, ceramic tiles in kitchen & bathrooms. Clean stained toilets (vinegar works really well for this!)
- Windows should be cleaned inside and out
- Damaged, broken or lost items should be repaired/replaced. We recommend that tenants endeavour to replace broken items before departure as additional costs may be incurred for time expended on shopping.
- Broken freezer drawers, locks etc should be replaced to avoid additional charges
- Light bulbs, extractor and fridge bulbs should be replaced
- Any items of furniture must be returned to their original rooms if moved during your tenancy.
- All personal items, kitchen utensils, kitchen appliances, furniture not originally belonging to the flat should be removed from the property – this also includes loft spaces, garages if there are any.
- Gardens, driveways, paths, lawns, hedges and rockeries should be trimmed and left as neat, tidy and properly tended.
- Assuming that the property was pest-free at the start of the tenancy, it should be handed over pest-free at the end of the tenancy.”
We hope that some of the advice from our letting agency colleagues will help you avoid tenancy related disputes at your rental property. For more advice on check in, check out, property health checks and inventory services, get in touch today.
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