*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:
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…
The end result
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)…
Before diving into it, I just to clarify what your tenant’s responsibility is when it comes to the condition in which they should return the property in.
Your tenant has a obligation to return the property in the same condition they received it in, minus damages caused by wear and tear. They are NOT required to return it in a better condition!
A bit of a no-brainer, but the property should be returned clean, both on the surface and behind and under surface areas. At least, as clean as it was when the tenant first moved in. Generally speaking, most landlords provide clean properties at the start of tenancies.
For more details, here’s an end of tenancy cleaning guide.
But now, let’s move onto a few specific areas that require attention during the final inspection, which landlords often forget to check or consider…
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.
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.
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.
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:
You can read the full story here: I’ve Fallen Out With My Ex-Tenant Over Her Security Deposit – in retrospect, that was amusing.
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.
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.
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?
Disclaimer: I'm just a simple landlord blogger, I am not qualified to give legal or financial advice. Any advice I give is my opinion based on my experience, and is never legal or professional advice. You should always get professional advice on any legal and financial matters!