Final Landlord Inspection: Areas To Check Before Returning Tenant’s Deposit

*slaps forehead* I made a stupid schoolboy error last week. My carelessness cost me £59 (not a lot, but it was unnecessary), but on the plus side, I now I have a tale to tell. Actually, it’s not so much of a tale; in reality it’s a shitty little story about how I was an idiot. At best, I suppose some of you may get a kick out of how a tight-fisted landlord was forced to cough up some doe.

Last week a tenant of mine moved out. On his last day, we did a final inspection of the property together. I was left pleasantly surprised. Everything actually looked in good condition, besides from a few scuffs, which was marked off as “wear and tear”. I also let a few other issues slide (e.g. nail polish stains on the carpet), but nothing major.

On the basis that the property seemed acceptable, I returned my tenant’s deposit (of course, it was held in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme).

Now, during the inspection I thought I had covered all the pivotal stop-points. Apparently not. DOH!

Before I go into details, I’d just like to make it clear that tenants are expected to return the property in the same condition that they received it in, minus any wear and tear!

The area I forgot to check…

Oven & Extractor Fan

I only went and forgot to check INSIDE the oven and under the extractor hood, didn’t I? It was only during one of my viewings that I noticed how FILTHY the appliances were. Fortunately, the prospective tenants didn’t notice, I managed to swerve them away from the hazard.

When my ex-tenant started renting the property, the oven and extractor was newly fitted so I knew they were clean as a whistle. However, a year later, and the oven is smothered in thick, greasy, donor kebab residue. It actually looked like the oven was used as a bird aviary because it looked like a flock of birds had shit all over the place. The extractor was glazed with a similar coating but with added layers of thick dust and lint that had stuck to the congealed mesh on the air vents. It’s amazing people can live like that. It genuinely makes me sick to the stomach. It also makes me question their personal hygiene, a topic of discussion which I don’t particularly want to go expand on.

Here are some pictures I took on my low quality camera-phone so you can get a rough idea of what I’m talking about. Although, these images really don’t do justice to the degree of filthiness I was subjected to:

Dirty Oven and Extractor

Would you really cook food using those appliances? The thought of making dinner in that oven literally makes me want to rip my stomach out via my throat. It looks like bird shit, I wasn’t wrong, right? Regarding the extractor, you can actually see a trial of grease, where at some point, grease was clearly dripping down from the hood. Even the buttons are buried in grease. Tragic.

You know what’s most concerning about this situation? My tenant is a headchef. Un-fucking-believable. Some of you may remember last year, when I blogged about another greasy sly-fuck tenant that left the entire kitchen smothered in congealed goose fat and God knows what else, and he was a Surgeon. This time round, the situation wasn’t as bad because it was only the oven and extractor fan, but it’s still worrying when someone with a professional obligation to carry high levels of hygiene standards can’t be bothered to maintain those standards after working hours (i’m praying to God they’re maintained during working hours. Benefit of the doubt).

Anyways, the thick grease was so prominent in the oven and extractor that I had to hire a professional oven cleaning company to handle the situation. They came around, took the extractor hood and oven apart and got to work. The service cost £59, and they were there for 3 hours. That included oven, extractor and three racks and grill pan cleaning. It’s cheaper if you just want the Oven cleaned alone.

Oddly enough, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a “Professional Oven cleaner” for domestic ovens before this incident occurred. I was actually contemplating the idea of replacing the entire oven because I didn’t think it could be restored to its former glory. However, I’m a Google/Internet fiend, so naturally my instincts forced me to enquiry into “Professional Oven Cleaners” To my surprise, I discovered that there are tonnes of companies out there that offer the service.

If I had spotted the condition of the oven and extractor during the inspection, I would have made my filthy tenant clean the oven and extractor himself. Oh well, lesson learned.

Pro oven cleaner at work…
Pro oven cleaner at work

The end result
Clean Oven

Looks like new, right? I was genuinely impressed with the service. I never thought for one second the end result would be so sparkly. And for £59, I thought that was good value considering how long the process took.

The areas I usually check (and did check this time)…

Outside/Inside Bins

Always check that the bins are completely empty. It should be the tenants responsibility to dispose of all rubbish before they vacate the property.

It’s common for properties to remain vacant for weeks during the viewing process. During that time, if there are unpleasant products left in the bins, it could kick up a stink (especially in the summer) and attract wildlife. That’s not exactly the most welcoming situation to present to prospective tenants during a viewing.

It’s also worth noting that while the property is vacant, landlords can apply for council tax exemption (I ALWAYS do this- even if it’s for a few days). During the exemption period, the garbage men aren’t meant to empty your wheelie bins. So I would ensure the wheelie bins are also emptied if you’re planning on being exempt from council tax.

Make sure storage units are empty

Kind of a no-brainer, but still worth mentioning. Tenants often have a habit of leaving junk behind (at least from my experience). Most of the times it isn’t intentional, but a lot of the times it is because they’re too lazy to do it themselves.

Check all storage areas for hauls of junk, like drawers, cupboards, garage, loft, and attic. Make sure everything is removed, otherwise the new tenants will only make you do it.

Removing items like furniture and boxes of junk is time-consuming, boring, and can some times be costly. Don’t take on the added responsibility. Disposing of tenants items (even after they have vacated) without consent can also land the landlord into legal battles.

Furniture

Check furniture
If you’re providing a furnished property, make sure every item is still there (it’s easy to forget what came with the property some times) and in working order. You should have an Inventory Form to assist with the process.

Check around and under furniture
Oh man, the amount of times I’ve had tenants try and strategically place furniture in an attempt to cover up shit stains on the carpet is unbelievable.

Ensure to check around and under all furniture because you never know what could be hiding.

Moving out furniture
A lot of damage is often caused when moving furniture in and out of a property. So don’t contemplate doing a full inspection and/or returning a deposit until ALL the tenant’s furniture is removed from the property.

Drains

A few years ago one of my tenant’s left me with a blocked drain. I actually didn’t pick up on this until the new tenants complained. Basically, the old tenants had blocked the outside drain by pouring ungodly amounts of fat and rice grains down the sink during their 3 year tenancy.

That was NOT a cheap fix. I had to call Dyno Rod (notorious for being expensive), and it cost me like £150 to resolve the issue, as the blockage transpired from 15feet below.

Ensure all plumbing in general is working properly, for example:

  • Flush all the toilets to ensure the water is circulating properly
  • Generously run all taps/showers to check the waterflow and for any backups/blockages
  • Check the outside drains for blockages- ensure they aren’t overflowing or have a permanently high water level
  • Check the boiler

In many cases, any issues picked up here may not be the tenant’s responsibility to resolve. However, for example, if you pickup on any blockages which are clearly due to negligence of the tenant (e.g. stuffing the pipes with rice), then the tenant’s maybe liable for the costs of repair.

Windows/Doors

Check to see if all doors and windows are in the condition they were given in. Particularly check to see if all doors and windows open and lock properly. A few years ago a tenant of mine tried to get away with this shizzle:

Broken Front Door

You can read the full story here: I’ve Fallen Out With My Ex-Tenant Over Her Security Deposit – in retrospect, that was amusing.

White goods

Check to see that all appliances that were provided with the property still work. Do NOT take your tenants word for it. Physically switch all items on to test they still work.

Keys

Make sure you have all sets of keys returned before returning the deposit. Don’t accept excuses like, “oh, I only have one set of keys with me, I’ll drop the other set off next week”

They’re unlikely to drop it off if they’ve already got their deposit back. Getting keys cut is annoying and an unnecessary expense.

Take meter readings

On the final day of your tenant’s departure, it’s a good idea to take ALL meter readings (gas, electricity and water) together so you have the same figures.

Tenant’s usually contact all their service providers, providing them with the final meter readings. But it’s always a good for the landlord to follow through with a phone call to ensure that firstly, the tenant has informed the appropriate companies they’re vacating, and secondly, the meter readings are correct.

Final note

Remember, as soon as your tenant’s vacate the property and the deposit is returned, it’s extremely difficult to claim back any damages you notice after. So it’s imperative to check everything thoroughly during your final inspection. I also can’t stress enough how vital an Inventory Report is to help assist with this process.

Each rental package is unique, so each property may have a unique checklist, which the landlord should appropriately adhere to. However, most aspects I listed above should apply to most rental situations.

Finally, does anyone else have anymore tips/stories to share?

35 Comments- Join The Conversation...

Guest Avatar
Ryan 1st July, 2011 @ 10:36

Hi Landlord,

Oven's are always a must when I check move outs, also fridge's and freezers (you'll be amazed the amount of times a single chicken breast has been left in a freezer that's been switched off).
Out of interest what company did you use for that oven?
Sparkling and at that price I think I may use it at home instead of using industrial cleaners which burn my eyes!

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Fee 1st July, 2011 @ 12:49

The oven and extractor are pretty disgusting I must admit... the grease on the fan actually makes me feel a bit sick!

Though to be honest I think if that was me I would of spent £10 on oven/grime cleaning products and done the job myself - saving the cost of £50 for someone else to do it. That oven does look pretty nasty but with a foam cleaner that you leave on for an hour it would of dissolved all the crap and it would of just been a matter of cleaning it all out.

I just see paying someone else to do it an unnecessary expense!

Fee x

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Ryan 1st July, 2011 @ 12:54

@Fee,

The difference is that I've seen oven cleaning companies and they take the oven apart almost completely. I wouldn't trust myself to put one back together!

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Fee 1st July, 2011 @ 13:06

@Ryan

Oh I agree... it would be stupid to even attempt that. But you pay them to literally clean it back it's almost original state which I don't think is that needed for the next tenant.

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Ryan 1st July, 2011 @ 13:31

@Fee

If I was renting a property I don't think I would be happy to be paying £700+ and be using a dirty cooker.

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Guest Avatar
Fee 1st July, 2011 @ 13:36

@Ryan

That may be you. But I think most tenants understand that the property will have been lived in previously, so don't expect it to be in pristine condition - which doesn't mean it is a dirty cooker.

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Andy Mills 1st July, 2011 @ 22:53

@Fee

I think this oven was more than a little past the normal "dirty" that you would expect to see - I doubt that normal domestic cleaning products would have made easy work of that oven.

When we moved into this house, the original oven hood was full of grease like that and if you dared turn it on, it would fill the house with the most disgusting stomach churning cheesy vile smell.

The only way is to strip it and clean it properly. It will give the tenant a better opinion of the landlord and will also be more inclined to look after and clean it better themselves.

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DVD 2nd July, 2011 @ 07:36

check divan bases, especially solid ones.
My tenant had slit the cloth on the side just enough to drop their syringe and needle into each time they injected!!
Huge pile of sharps to dispose of !
Joys of being a landlord , and now John Snow is going to take a pop at us cruel landlords on telly!

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Fredo 2nd July, 2011 @ 10:06

Good job with the oven! I have to admit I was wondering whether getting someone in to do the oven was really necessary, but for that money and the end result it's definitely justified.

Go on, give them a free advert and let us know who they are!

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 2nd July, 2011 @ 17:07

Hey all,

Great to see people getting involved with the filthy oven situation ha!

@Ryan & @Fredo
I used All Bright Oven Clean - they don't operate nationally though, but they may cover your area! I've never contemplated using an Oven Cleaning Company before this happened. I've definitely seen the light. For £59 (including VAT) they cleaned the extractor, oven and up to three racks and grill pan. But it's cheaper if you just want the oven alone cleaned (£39).

@Fee
I don't think regular domestic products would have cut it, especially £10's worth. As someone mentioned, this wasn't just "normal dirty"

This guy had a massive chest full of tools, which included special cleaning liquids, several different polishes, several different cloths, and several scraping tools. He also had a special tank in his van that cleaned the trays. Getting the appropriate equipment alone would have probably cost half the service charge (minus the tank).

Also, as Ryan mentioned. This guy actually took apart the oven and extractor- cleaned everything thoroughly.

I watched him all the way through the process, it wasn't all that simple. There is definitely an art to doing it properly. The fact it took him 3 hours (without taking a break) also speaks volumes.

@DVD
Man, that's nasty!!!

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Guest Avatar
AUS 4th July, 2011 @ 06:11

WOW loving the Oven Cleaning company - I once had to clean an oven and trays 7 times after a tenant had been in for 12 months. It was also a brand new appliance when they moved in.

My tips:
Check that all light fittings work - a daytime inspection can often cause you to overlook this.

Check that heating and hot water works - may not be a tenants fault but handy to know it's all working fine before new tenants arrive.

Check toilet flush, taps, showers and drains - I usually run the lot all at once and check for slow drainage/overflow.

these of course should already be on your inventory in some form or another.

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phil kelly 4th July, 2011 @ 17:47

regarding the dirty oven situation..... surely you would inspect it when you do your renewal inspection, monthly inspection, quarterly inspection or whenever you do your inspection of the property at your set or agreed intervals. Whenever i have renewed my tenants contract, i also inspect the property before renewal - including looking in the oven! Anything (including a dirty oven) that is "discovered" is brought to the attention of the tenant and it is a stipulation that it should be rectified within a certain timescale and state a new inspection of the said "discovery".
Common sense, is it not!

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John 5th July, 2011 @ 11:48

@Landlord: I used to get this problem because no matter how hard you try, there are always places you will forget to look if you leave it to memory. so now we use a Check sheet one for the tenant and one for us. That way they know their responsibilities and we know where to look.

I also never go round the property with the tenant because if you do this they will try to sort problems while you are there and then rush them. I wait until they have left, go in that day or the next and make a list to contact the tenant with. I just find it more thorough this way.

Another place you didn't mention to check is Meters. Tenants sometimes try to give the gas/electricity companies false readings so be careful on this, I always get someone to ring and give the supplier a reading of our own.

regards

John

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 5th July, 2011 @ 13:45

Hey John,

Funny you mention that, I'm in the process of putting together a check list, so I don't forget. It's probably long overdue. However, better late than never.

Good point about the meter readings. I actually ALWAYS take the meter readings and call all the appropriate companies myself. A lot of the times, it's not just that the tenant's give wrong readings, but they actually forget (or simply don't bother) to inform the suppliers that they're vacating. I'm going to add this one to the list!

Many thanks :)

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CPP 5th July, 2011 @ 14:10

I take photos of the meter readings as i have had disputes with the utility companies in the past!!
Its a good way of "shutting them up" when you produce a picture of the reading. Also, the tenant cant dispute it.

Phil

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london property 12th July, 2011 @ 12:39

I can understand what a mess you had to go through. But it was most unkind and ungrateful of them to just run off like that.
Thanks for updating on what I need to look into next time. Did miss three key points last time, but I am on my toe this time.

Jack,
www.homes-one.com

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Chris 16th July, 2011 @ 20:32

I have to agree some people can live in the most disgusting filth known to the human race. And yet, still find their pit a nice place too cook & have sex, although probably not at the same time.

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Rob 29th October, 2011 @ 16:26

Advice please!!

I made friends with my ex tenants and they have just moved out, I noticed a big scuff on my wooden lam flooring, to fix it would cost a lot and its not really worth the effort but I still hold their deposit should I keep some of the deposit?

I guess this a question on moral more then anything! they are aware of the problem but I haven't decided what to do.

Rob

Thanks

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Belle 10th January, 2012 @ 15:55

When I moved in, there was a hairball the size of my fist in the bath drain so I had to pull it all out and it wouldn't drain and the oven was even dirtier than that! D:

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Belle 10th January, 2012 @ 15:56

Oops posted that too soon. Does that mean I can leave it in a shit hole before I leave? Probably not :|

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Jeremy 10th January, 2012 @ 21:16

Hi Belle,

I notice you've left about half a dozen stories with questions on different blogs. It's always easier to help someone when the full story is easily to hand.

Next time, why not start your own Forum post and wait for people to reply to that?

Anyway: The condition you leave the property in will be dictated by the inventory, if you want to keep all your deposit. As long as you ensured the inventory noted it was dirty, then that's fine.

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Belle 10th January, 2012 @ 21:22

Hi Jeremy.

I actually ended up giving pretty much the full story on the scumbag landlord post.

I wasn't aware there was a forum! Thanks for that.

Yeah and we took photos too of it all. Half of the stuff in the inventory was completley wrong anyway! On the notice it DEMANDS we clean the oven and everything, wash the kitchen floor, shampoo carpets. I already said I refuse to shampoo carpets when it's the landlord who ruined them doing the dry wall. Why should I have to pay to get the plaster out of the carpet that HIM and his hired hands got in it? The agents agreed that it was okay but only verbally. Every time we ask for something in writing, they tell us to come back later. Earlier on, they hung up on me when I was asking a question! -_- Horrible estate agents.

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Jeremy 10th January, 2012 @ 22:56

Hello Belle,

Please, please tell us that you did not sign the inventory if it was half wrong. If you signed then that is the yard-sick by which the landlord will be allowed to possibly retain your deposit.

Or to put it a different way: If you don't clean the oven which the inventory says was clean, he can get it cleaned and charge you for the cost by with-holding your deposit.

I'd starting sending things to the agent in writing, even e-mail is better than verbal. The kind of thing which says "folowing our conversation, in which you agreed blah, blah"

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Guest Avatar
Belle 10th January, 2012 @ 23:15

Hiya Jeremy.

Well my partner sorted that. He took the list of things I had written down and they were added to the inventory. We also have photos of the things we listed with the date in the EXIF as a little extra evidence.

The inventory didn't state the condition of the oven, just that there was one. It took TWO HOURS to clean that thing. Had to be gone over several times with industrial stuff, I don't think the inside had EVER been cleaned. I put the shelves in the bathtub with cleaner and there are oven shelves shape of brown in the bubbles from the stuff.

Well I think everything is pretty much said, it'll be a matter of contacting them when we want to leave now I think. I'm not good with this stuff, the insane amount of stress it's caused me (I'm not a well lady, in fact, I'm 20 and chronically ill, maybe they think I'm young, stupid and as I'm ill they can walk over me when in actual fact I'm a little big for my boots, so I'm told!) I've written notes on what has been said when I started getting fed up with it all and have taken pictures of all the things that have been ruined and such.

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Guest Avatar
Ina 12th January, 2012 @ 22:45

Hi guys,

I need advice as I'm completely drowning here. I rent a single room in my house. My previous lodger moved out October 15th and on the 16th the new lodger moved in. I checked the room thoroughly when the previous lodger moved out and handed in the room in a perfect state. There was an issue today and I had to enter the room and I found out that the majority of the room has been taken over by mold. Lodger has not mentioned this to me. When I asked her she found all sorts of excuses and generally turned it back on me and said that I should know what's happening in my house. I gave her the notice we agreed but she is threatening me that if I keep any of her deposit to fix the room she will take me to court. Do you have any ideas? What should I do? Help!!

Ina

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Missy 4th May, 2012 @ 10:19

If you can be arsed to clean the oven yourself get some marigolds and some Fairy power spray. It's about £3.50 and it cleans off just about any type of shit people leave behind. We've just moved in to a house the oven had been wiped over, not good enough for me. Power spray cut through all the grease and grime straight away. Good stuff, well worth buying.

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Garry 5th April, 2013 @ 18:20

none have you seen anything till you see the state my council tenant left my house in pictures are avalible and the only moved out last stupidly i did'nt take a deposit would like to know if any can help me can i take them to court for the rubbish left and the mess they left the place in or do i notifiy the council if you would like to see the pic please let me know but you will be sick i was

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Alex 4th September, 2013 @ 18:16

Hi,

Is it even legally possible to recoup additional costs once you've returned some of the deposit?

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lisa 4th August, 2014 @ 11:33

My landlord has been in touch 6 months after I moved out claiming I didn't pay the fuel bills. I have sent proof to her and she is still accusing me of giving false readings.

I have already had confirmation from E-on that my account was read by a meter reader and is clear.

Landlord sill saying y readings were false as she has a huge bill - but after I handed the keys back and got a receipt the flat as been in the hands of several estate agencies - who can say they could've left the heating on!

I trust she won't have a leg to stand on?

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John 4th August, 2014 @ 12:33

Energy Bills are between the consumer and the company supplying the energy, Surely on check out you and your Landlord/Agent Took meter readings together and agreed them?

If not then this can make the situation difficult. That being said if someone from the energy company came out within a few days of you moving out and read the meter then I would doubt that she has any chance.

It sounds like another case of Landlords either not knowing what they are doing and getting it wrong trying to save a few quid or using a shit agent who does not know what they are doing, again just to save a few quid!

Maybe you can clarify which for us?

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Lisa 4th August, 2014 @ 18:40

Hi John,

Landlord couldn't be bothered to come up from Yorkshire to Edinburgh for my check out.

I was instructed to hand keys into an estate agent as she had put flat on the market.

I got the meter reader around on my last day & handed the keys back to the estate agents.

The flat was managed directly with the owner. I got deposit back & took a witness with me when leaving. Turned off electricity & gas

Regards

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John 5th August, 2014 @ 08:52

@ Lisa

In that case Lisa I would suggest the whole issue is between you Landlord and his utility company. As I said before he should have checked the property out!Even if you did leave the heating on this should have been checked at the end by the Landlord/Agent.

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Clair 26th November, 2014 @ 14:42

HI,

Hope you can help.
We rented our home out as we had to move with my husbands job. We did this privately rather than going through an estate agent, first mistake. We left the house to her in immaculate condition, all just painted. We did inspect the property, and all did seem ok, a few areas which we said she would need to do and she acknowledged, now she has since left the property, the date she gave a her leaving date was the day we were going away, she didn't want to move her date so my sister in law collected the keys. When we did get to the property she had wrecked the garden a massive bald patch 2m x 1 m in the middle of the garden where a wendy house had been, and all rooms needed desperately painting. The kitchen was disgusting, oven filthy and she had broken the oven door, very bad marks on the wall, needed painting. Sitting room holes in the wall where she had hung pictures and not filled them in, walls filthy, wood work really bad, beyond reasonable wear and tear. Leak in the toilet she said had stopped, hadn't, have had to rip out tiled boxing the round the toilet. Stairs, carpet absolutely filthy again nails in the wall, walls dirty from kids hand prints. first bedroom, again walls all stained and dirty. Added to the fact she has had gas and electric key meters put in as she was in arrears, we did not know this till we went back to the house. she moved someone into the house without my knowledge. And we have had bailiffs to the door for various bad debts. She has said she wants the £1000 bond back, but we need to obviously sort the issues out. They have said the garden should not be their concern despite they used it. we have undergone the work ourselves, but where do we stand with returning her bond? we did not do an inventory on the property, and did have a tenancy agreement drawn. Thanks, hope you can give some advice.

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Dave Caesar 26th July, 2015 @ 20:44

Tenant vacated property 3 months early due to personal and financial problems. She gave the wrong meter reading to the energy supplier. I took a meter reading different to hers and took a photo of this on my mobile but missed off the serial number. Because i manage the property myself I would have done a move out inspection but basically she did a moonlight flit and then texted me the morning after she vacated the property. I did the meter reading that day straight away. The suppliers are saying firstly we should have had a move out inspection of the reading which was impossible to have since she did a moonlight flit and secondly they are saying that the photo I had taken with the reading could not be accepted due to not having a serial number on the photo. Please can you give me some advise what I can do to resolve this. Thank u.

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Oly 15th June, 2016 @ 11:05

"Ensure all plumbing in general is working properly."
How do you do that? Do you pour water to each and every drain in your property?

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