Like with most professions, the majority of the skills required are learnt while ‘on the job’ – that’s especially true for landlords, since this isn’t Star Trek and we don’t have virtual landlord simulators at our disposal. So what’s a brother to do but learn on the job?
I’ve been a landlord for several years now, which means I’ve watched dozens of tenants come and go. Many have been missed, while others have been replicated into miniature Voodoo dolls, which rest under my sordid bed, with thick, rusty pins hanging out of their arses. However, regardless of how the note to each tenant ended, I’ve always managed to higher my learning curve from each tenancy. This is particularly true when tenants vacate the premises at the end of a tenancy.
Over the years I’ve lost lump sums of money because I didn’t spot damages my tenants were liable for until it was too late, which consequently meant the cash had to be pried out of my manicured hands. There was no one to blame besides from my own inexperience. In most cases, I failed to check specific areas of the property, which later on come back to haunt me with a financial consequence. In order to refrain myself from falling victim to the same problems, I developed a checklist, which covers areas to check when a tenant vacates.
My “checklist for when tenants vacate” usually increases by one or two points each time a tenant vacates. It’s not that I’m totally careless or cavalier with my final inspections, because I’m not, I do proper checks. However, each tenant is different, and each tenant has their own weird and ridiculous habits. So even when you think you have all the check-points covered, a tenant will come along and show you a new and unregistered way of pulling down your pants and riding you like Seabiscuit. A prime example being when I recently wrote a blog post about how my Tenant Left Me With a Drain Blocked With Shit. The problem was, the drain didn’t overflow until the kitchen tap was running for at least several minutes because the blockage was 15 meters into the pipes. A problem like that is not easily found during an inspection- how many landlords/agents actually let taps run for several minutes to check for overflows? Not many. I’ve previously blogged about similar scenarios where I got caught out, and so a few of my readers have asked me for a checklist they could use or perhaps get ideas from, so they don’t fall for victim to the same traps. So, here we are, again, together! Cosy.
I just want to point out that I use my “Checklist Form For When Tenants Vacate” along side a Landlord Inventory Form. A landlord inventory is a listing of all the contents of a property and a record of the condition of the property. These forms shouldn’t be confused with one another, they each have their vital roles to play. I would always recommend having an inventory in place for every tenancy. The “Checklist For When Tenants Vacate” concentrates on areas to check, as opposed to the condition of the property and the items before and after the tenancy.
My checklist of areas to check when tenants vacate
- Drains– run the taps from all water outlets in the house for several minutes to ensure there are no overspills from the drains. It’s also worth removing the drain covers and ensuring there are no obvious and visible blockages.
- Taps– check that all taps actually work, and water flows as it should. Don’t neglect outside/garden taps.
- Plug holes– I once had a tenant that left a disgusting amount of matted hair down the shower and sink plugholes. Apparently he malted like a husky in the summer. What a super freak. It was disgusting and could have easily caused blockages. Ensure the plug-holes are thoroughly cleaned by your tenant; it’s certainly not our job to unpick cheesy bunches of matted hair from plug-holes, or from any other type of hole, for that matter.
- Water pressure / flow– if there are any pipes blocked, it may have an impact on the water flow. So check that the pressure and flow from all taps are as should be. Blocked pipes commonly occur from abusive substances being wrongly disposed of down the sink. If that’s the case, the responsibility should fall onto the tenant.
- White goods / Electrical Items– don’t rely on visual inspections, ensure that each item is tested and in full working order. Pay particular attention to the cleanliness of the items, especially the white goods. I got royally penetrated up the rectum recently by my dirtbag tenant that was too lazy and disgusting to clean the oven during his entire tenancy. I didn’t check INSIDE the oven during the final inspection, but when I did a few days later, I was in for a nasty shock in the form of congealed fat and food residue that resembled decayed bird shit. I had to hire a professional oven cleaning company to resolve the matter. Moral of the story: don’t underestimate the filthiness of tenants. Oh, and thoroughly check all appliances, inside and out.
- Appliances– as with the above point, check all appliances you provided with the property, don’t rely on appearances, and especially don’t rely on your tenant’s word.
- Plug points– check to see that all plug points are working. Additionally, check that the plastic plug socket covers aren’t broken/cracked. Plug socket covers often get broken when furniture is being moved around and/or when crazy sex stunts go wrong- it’s a pretty common issue. Not a huge financial burden, but nevertheless the deposit is there to cover those mishaps.
- Light Switches– ensure all light switches work, and again, check that the actual switches are in the condition they should be in.
- Door bell– check to see if the doorbell works. A lot of landlords generally forget about this one.
- Fire / Smoke Alarms– check that all fire alarms still work. That’s a no-brainer, and should be covered in the inventory.
- Doors– ensure all doors open, close and lock properly. It’s also worth looking for significant cracks/splits in the doors, especially where the lock is. Doors are expensive to replace.
- Windows– ensure all windows open, close and lock. Also look for for any chips and/or cracks.
- Laminate / hardwood flooring– if you have laminate/hardwood flooring, check for breaks, chips and unevenness. I had to replace hardwood flooring once because the previous tenant liked hosting gatherings which entailed a lot of fluid spillage (I’m not judging). Of course, that caused the floor panels to expand and dislodge. It cost quite a bit to fix, and I didn’t spot it during the inspection because the damage was being strategically covered by furniture. Yes, my thoughts precisely, what a sneaky, snakeoil, conniving little cock!
- Sinks / baths/ showers – check all ceramic and plastic fittings for cracks and chips. I had a tenant leave behind a huge crack inside a sink before.
- 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. I’ve fallen victim to this ugly, ugly, ugly situation before, and it killed a part of me, a good part. My tenant left an ungodly amount of crap in the wheelie bins outside the property. Of course, I didn’t check the bins during the final inspection. Worst part was that the rubbish wasn’t disposed into black bags, it was just thrown directly into the bins. Seriously, are we back in the caveman era where we act like animals? Let’s just shit in the corner while we Willy-nilly dispose of rubbish directly into wheelie bins. To clear up the mess I had to retrieve my thick, rubber gloves from my special trunk and transfer the rubbish into black bin bags. By the end of it, I had 8 bags full, which I had to take to the local dump. It was an awful experience, which still gives me nightmares. Why didn’t I just let the garbage men collect the rubbish, you ask? Because while the property was empty, I applied for council tax exemption so I was revoked from my local tax privileges e.g. garbage collection. Is that a good enough reason for you? Lovely.
- Cupboards / Drawers– again, make sure cupboards and drawers are completely empty, otherwise the new tenants will only make you do it. And believe me, it’s not a fun job to dispose of other peoples shit (unless you’re getting paid for it).
- Shed / Garage– ensure all items from outbuildings are removed. Also worth checking the fittings in the outbuildings e.g. doors, windows, locks.
- Loft / Atic– check the loft/actic is empty and doesn’t contain any of the tenants unwanted items. Tenants have tried to pull this stunt on me one too many times. Amusing, but it gets old and boring.
- Underneath / behind– 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 horrifying. Check around, under, behind, on top, and inside of the furniture, basically every which way possible.
- Testing– give each furniture piece a test of stability and usability e.g. lay down on the beds and sit down on the sofas. Make sure everything feels safe and sturdy.
- Unwanted furniture removed– tenants often buy temporary furniture with the intentions of leaving them behind when it’s time to vacate because they’re too lazy to dispose of their cheap Ikea crap. The tenant may suggest leaving the items in the property for your new tenants, and it may seem like a tempting offer. However, I ALWAYS refuse the offer because as soon as a landlord starts providing tenants with pieces of furniture, they automatically become liable for repairing/removing/replacing the item if it gets damaged (unless there’s a disclaimer in the contract). Make tenants remove ALL their furniture if you don’t want to provide a part/furnished property.
Security / Alarms
- Alarm– check the alarm is still working, specifically the sensors.
- Unlock key– check that the intruder switch is still operable and the unlock key for it is present.
- Alarm code– check that the original alarm code is still the same (i.e. the tenants didn’t change it).
I’ve put my list in a form format which you can download from the link provided below, just in case, you know, you actually think it will be useful to you as a reminder.
The perks of having a checklist
It’s self-explanatory why checklists like these are crucial, but I may as well support the practise with a definitive statement.
It really is a simple case of investing a few hours into thoroughly inspecting a property for the sake of potentially saving a heap of money. So you decide, spend money on areas that could have been avoided, or buy a brand new wicked-cool Pioneer sound-blaster for your pimped out Renault Clio. It’s a no-brainer.
Add to the list
My list is custom to my needs, although a lot of the to-do’s are pretty generic, and good practise for all types of landlords and tenancies. However, feel free to add your own custom to-do’s from your own experiences and situation, and remove any action(s) you feel is inappropriate. Although, I’m rarely ever inappropriate, so I’d be interested to know if you remove any points. I’m usually prepared to fight to the death until I’m deemed right.
Anyone have any further suggestions/recommendations?
Does anyone else have any other to-do’s I can add to the list? Perhaps I’ve missed a few out because I’ve yet to be stung by tenants in that particular area.
Disclaimer: I'm just a simple landlord blogger, I am not qualified to give legal advice. Any advice I give is my opinion based on my experience. I will always recommend you seek legal or professional advice on any legal matters!
Any documents you download from this website are just examples of its kind and should be checked by a professional. I give no warranties or representations concerning the documents, and accept no liability in relation to the use of the documents.