Why Check-In and Check-Out Reports are important for Tenants

If you are a tenant, or are about to become one, it is important that you understand reports produced for the property. What they are and how they work is important to you because they are key to whether you get your full deposit back at the end of the tenancy or whether the landlord is entitled to take some, or all, of it.

An inventory is a full, in-depth report of the condition of the property and any contents that may come with it if it is furnished, or part furnished. Most landlords will create an inventory, either themselves or through their letting agent. Indeed, so many inventories are taken every year throughout the UK that there are professional inventory clerks who do nothing else and may be members of an association such as the AIIC – Association of Independent Inventory Clerks – or ARLA Propertymark Inventories, which is a leading association for property agents.

The actual format of an Inventory report may vary from one inventory to another, so where one might go into a lot of detail about the condition of a sofa, for example, another may simply describe the condition as “good, average, or poor”. Ideally, all inventories should include photographs because this means that there cannot really be any arguments about the condition. A Check-In report should be carried out on the day before you move in, or even on the morning, and with you, as the tenant, present. It is based on the Inventory Report which may have been taken earlier. The Check-In provides an update to the Inventory. This, again, helps to save any arguments later on, because you and the landlord, or whoever is taking the inventory on their behalf, can both agree on the condition of anything at the point of moving in.

After all, you are required to sign the report in order to say that you agree with it. If the report is carried out when you are not able to be present, the landlord, or their agent, should provide you with a copy and give you around a week, typically, in which to approve it before you sign it. This means that, after all the hassle of moving in, and all the other things that you need to do, you also need to take the time specifically to go through the property and agree with the report. If there is anything that you wish to point out that has been missed – perhaps a scratch on the fridge door, for example, you can do so, and also take a photograph if possible. Thus, both you and the landlord will agree the condition at the beginning of the tenancy.

Your landlord, or agent, will almost certainly want to take an interim inspection during the course of the tenancy. Some landlords carry out these checks every three months or so, while others may do so every six months or even every year. The landlord, or agent, must give you 24 hours written notice of an interim inspection.

An interim inspection also enables you to point out that perhaps a carpet is becoming worn and may at some point need replacing, and this is known as fair wear and tear. That is the responsibility of the landlord. You are not responsible for things that wear out. However, if you have dented the fridge door, then that is your responsibility. An interim inspection also provides the landlord the chance to spot anything that may need to be repaired or fixed. There could be a damp patch on the wall in the bathroom that you haven’t noticed, and it will be better to fix it now before it gets any worse.

At the end of your tenancy, the landlord / agent will carry out a check-out report which will detail the condition of everything at the point you leave the premises. Once again, a check-out report should be conducted with you present so that you can both agree on the condition of everything at the point that you leave. It is not right that the check-out report should be left for a week or two after you have gone, because something could get damaged in the interim, and you might be blamed for it.

Once the check-out report has been created, provided you have caused no damage to the property or contents, you should be able to recover the total amount of your deposit. If damage has been caused, the landlord is entitled to make a deduction to cover the cost of repair or replacement.

Gary, 20 August 2021

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