End-of-tenancy checks can spring all manner of surprises on landlords. Take, for example, the landlord in north-west London who discovered an abandoned kitten when taking possession of a property back in August. The tenants had shot through and left the black and white fluff ball behind. Thankfully, our hero landlord rang the local rescue centre, The Mayhew, and raised the alarm.
Thankfully, this story had a happy ending, but not all end-of-tenancy inspection discoveries are quite so cute and cuddly.
People leave all sorts behind when they vacate a property ranging from your run-of-the-mill stuff like fans, microwaves, clothes rails, chairs, and shoes, to the downright weird such as false teeth, fish tanks (with fish), pot-bellied pigs and wig collections.
The detritus is usually shabby, often broken, and most definitely an annoyance to the landlord left to sort out the mess (which is usually accompanied by a bin bag or two of general rubbish).
But a word of warning for landlords: before you head to the tip with a car-load of tenant trash, make sure that all items can clearly be construed as rubbish.
A landlord can face repercussions if they dispose of property belonging to a former tenant without permission. The risk is that a landlord bins what looks like a tired old pot, and then the tenant turns up weeks later claiming it was a family heirloom – that contained Great Aunt Bertha’s ashes. Cue costly legal action.
Landlords need to tread a careful line and check the wording of a tenancy agreement before clearing a property. If items look like they have some value, you need to show that you’ve taken reasonable steps to contact the former tenant and request collection. (A 21-day deadline is standard, but it’s always worth getting legal advice first.) In some cases, landlords have to store the items, which can be bulky, while all this plays out.
To avoid playing babysitter to a former tenant’s bric-a-brac, be proactive from the start of a tenancy. Keep a thorough inventory to deter a tenant from running off with your belongings and prevent them from offloading unwanted possessions onto you.
Also, conduct regular inspections throughout a tenancy to ensure junk isn’t piling up. If the property starts looking like something off the TV show Hoarders, then you need to step in before it spirals out of control. And of course, when a tenancy is coming to an end, maintain regular contact with tenants and make sure that they understand that they need to take their belongings with them when they go.
All this might sound time-consuming, but it will save you time and money. It also means that the property will be in good condition and able to be re-let straight away.
If you want to ensure your property doesn’t end up looking like a junkyard, get in touch with us here at Duncan Yeardley. Our Fully Managed service means we handle the inventories, inspections and end-of-tenancy checks so that you can rest easy.