As a tenancy ends, the work begins

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30th November 2021

What landlords need to know and take care of

From the moment your tenant gives notice, a whole series of actions need to start kicking in. We spoke to Mark Cruse, Lettings Manager at Alexander & Co in Winslow, about the responsibilities of the outgoing tenant, as well as the landlord and how our property management service can help.

Your outgoing tenant

The most straightforward situation is where a tenant gives one month’s notice to terminate their tenancy agreement. It’s a little more complicated if the tenant is leaving due to rent arrears or in the middle of the contract for some reason.

A landlord may find themselves in a situation where they’re serving a Section 8 or 21 notice. The basic difference between a Section 8 and Section 21 is that a Section 8 notice is served when a tenant is in breach of contract (being in arrears on rent, for example). A Section 21 is served to end a tenancy agreement so that the landlord can regain possession (it doesn't mean the tenant has necessarily done anything wrong).

Value and viewings

First, as part of our property management service, we’ll look at what the market is doing if the landlord wants to re-market the property and go in to re-assess its value. If there’s an opportunity to increase the monthly rental amount (or indeed a compelling reason to reduce the rent), then we’ll advise the landlord accordingly.

“Of course, we’re sympathetic to the current tenant when it comes to arranging viewings during their last month,” explains Mark. Often landlords have established good relationships with tenants, so it’s important to cause as little disturbance as possible. This thoughtful approach fits with our reputation as well.

We may book out a one hour slot at the property, and possibly show four sets of people around in that period. Of course, if the property to let is empty, we have more freedom to show potential tenants around. If a tenant is interested in the property, we’ll be thorough in looking at how proceedable the tenant is and liaise with the landlord. 

Maintaining quality of accommodation

Upon inspecting the property, we’ll advise on what needs to be done between tenancies to keep the accommodation up to scratch. For example, pictures and shelves may have been put up and left some marks or slight damage behind, which will need some attention. We’re always on hand to suggest preferred contractors who can get the property back to a good standard. If we’re already managing the property, we’ll set about getting it back into a lettable condition.

On occasions, we step in and advise the landlord that more significant work does need to be done before the next tenancy can begin. For example, if water keeps escaping from a shower tray, then it might be that a gap is needed between tenancies. The work would be carried out to resolve the problem fully while the place is empty, ensuring that it’s fit for purpose. It means that the landlord will experience a short gap in receiving rent, but it will help to ensure that the property attracts the right tenant and maintains its monthly rental value.

Checking out

We’ll send the current tenant a ‘check-out’ letter, which covers the procedure for them at the end of the tenancy. Our property management team can organise an end of tenancy inventory clerk to visit the property once the tenant has vacated and handed in the keys. It’s their job to determine if there’s anything beyond normal wear and tear, and whether it’s down to the landlord or tenant to resolve. If the responsibility lands with the outgoing tenant, we’ll negotiate with them on the cleaning or repair costs.

We’ll also make sure the final meter readings are taken and can also help with the transfer of the main utilities.

Return of the deposit

In many cases, the outgoing tenant’s deposit is often released in full if there has been no major damage. If there are any issues, we’ll negotiate with the tenant on how much should be taken from their original deposit. If this becomes difficult, an independent case examiner can be brought in.

“The crucial thing is to get ahead of the game,” Mark explains. “The more information we can give the tenant on how we expect the property to be returned, the less argument there is afterwards if the property’s not in the right condition. It’s all about good communication from the start.” 

Our property management service also includes regular inspections during tenancies. The Property Managers tend to know in advance if there are going to be any issues of note, as they get to know the tenants and how they’re living in the accommodation.

The importance of changing legislation

Sometimes tenants stay in a property for a considerable number of years. When they do come to move out, a landlord may be faced with a number of changes in legislation, which they haven’t had to navigate before. We’re able to advise and assist landlords, so that everything is fully clear and legal before going forward with the next tenancy.

Getting it right from start to finish

Clarity and communication are key in making sure the end of a tenancy runs smoothly and the new tenancy can get off to the best possible start. Just get in touch to find out more about what’s covered by our property management service, backed by Alexander & Co’s usual market insight and personal approach.