Checklist Form For When Tenants Vacate

Vacating Premises

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

Plumbing

  • 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.

Electrics

  • 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.

Fittings

  • 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.

Storage

  • 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.

Furniture

  • 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.









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12 Comments- Join The Conversation...

Guest Avatar
YesAdam 20th October, 2011 @ 20:03

Blocked drains needed fixing before reletting, but who would you say is responsible for drainage repair costs?

Tenant or landlord.

1
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 20th October, 2011 @ 20:21

Hi,

The blocked drain was repaired before reletting. Out of curiosity, did I say something which made you think otherwise?

In my case, the tenants had lived there for 2 years, and by the end of their tenancy, the drain was blocked with rice and fat/grease, so it was their fault. Being careless with what is deposed of down the sink isn't wear or tear, it's negligence.

Cheers

2
Guest Avatar
YesAdam 20th October, 2011 @ 20:50

Not really the opening paragraphs say " Over the years I’ve lost lump sums of money because I didn’t spot damages my tenants were liable", so it got me thinking and googleing.

Id of thought tenant, but google disagrees.

3
Guest Avatar
emma 24th October, 2011 @ 08:37

Thanks for this landlord. I've passed it on to a friend who's tenent has just given notice. There's a lot of items here that you forget about!!

4
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 24th October, 2011 @ 13:45

Hi Emma,

What did I forget? Please let me know, and I'll add it to the list.

Many thanks :)

5
Guest Avatar
emma 24th October, 2011 @ 13:51

Sorry, bad english. It meant to refer to when I tenent moves out there's a lot of areas you forget to check :)

6
Guest Avatar
Armin 18th November, 2011 @ 15:32

Landlord,

This is something you would want to add to your list under Electricals

* Security / Alarms

- Check that all sensors are still working
- Check that intruder switch is still operable and the unlock key for it present
- Most importantly: Check that the original alarm code is still the same (i.e. the tenants didnt change it).

The last item is one where malicious tenants can really screw you over. Imagine the alarm going off and no means of turning it off as your code is outdated. It will require a costly visit by a security installer to set that right.

-Armin

7
Guest Avatar
Elena 16th February, 2015 @ 14:22

Hi,
thanks for the list, it's really helpful.

Like most landlords I have an inventory file I give to tenants at beginning of tenancy (they are required to sign it), each item is described in the number, colour, etc. but also in its state (clean, new, broken etc.)
There is also a section that tells the tenant how to use/care for each item and how they are expected to leave item at the end of tenancy. (ex. BBQ need to be cleaned regularly, and returned clean when vacating or cleaning charges will be applied – it takes me hours to clean it!)

I also have a check list I give to tenants when they give me notice, this is about helping me asses what maintenance work is needed (getting ready for it!) and also it gives me an opportunity to convey the message that I will check everything and that if things are not ok they will pay for it. I ask them to let me know if house in their opinion needs painting, if appliances work well (to help me understand if they need replacement soon which gives me an opportunity to find good deals). I ask them to tell me if there are missing or damaged items.
I also ask to let me know in what way I can improve the house and if there is anything I need to re-think (out of curiosity, and because I tap in the high end of tenancy market, and I feel the need to keep up to speed with what tenants need and look for) I ask also if I was good landlord it helps me running this "business" properly.

As for your list, I'd add:
- keys, not only for front doors but also for internal doors
- Instructions folder (appliances, compliance certificates, warranties etc)
- fridge and freezer to be defrosted
- washing machine / dryer filter need to be cleaned
- all light bulbs need to be functioning

hope this helps!

8
Guest Avatar
Tim 25th September, 2015 @ 14:09

i have been a landlord for sometime with commercial property, and only a few years as a domestic property landlord. i found your site by accident but think your humor help and assistance is priceless. The info and comments of what has happened to other is a great help in trying to run a buy to let property. If you are ever in the Leeds area of yorkshire i would gladly buy you a drink and meal as a thank you for letting me have the benefit of your experience in this minefield. i just have to know work out what i do with my letting agent as they signed a contract with my tenant for 6 months but sent me the paperwork stating they had signed for 12 months !!! its not going to be fun so i am considering setting my head on fire and putting it out with a spade as im sure it will be more pleasureable than trying to get a resolution by the end of today. thanks again

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Guest Avatar
Sharon 18th April, 2016 @ 19:26

When I helped the new tenant move the bed so we could accommodate a desk, the bloody thing collapsed! Previous tenant had broken 2 of the wooden legs. God knows how as it had always remained in the same position. In fact, I don't even want to think about it now but several of the wooden slats had popped out of position too...

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Guest Avatar
Robert 16th January, 2017 @ 21:21

I am very glad I found this site. I find it very useful and somehow helpful in dealing with the stress of dealing with difficult tenants knowing we are not the only ones. We have also been renting out a couple of properties for years. Most tenants were reasonable, some are not. Thank you for the blog

11
Guest Avatar
Hannah 11th March, 2017 @ 11:58

It's rare -never- I find an article on tenancy disputes that makes me laugh out loud. It was the conniving cock that had me in stitches. Our last tenant left a fuck load of hair in the shower drain, I've never seen anything like it. We're just about to do a end of tenancy inspection with another tenant and I'm absolutely running taps and checking drains. Thanks for the advice!

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