Check-out process

Hi All,

Looking for an advice. I’m (hopefully) soon to move out problematic tenant (stopped paying, already damaged carpets+poor upkeep of property last 6 months). I’m going to book professional check-out report to facilitate deposit discussions. Do you think I should still be present during the check out? Lots of companies will now request property being empty whilst they work during Covid, also I feel like I don’t want to see this person again (apart from my limited and patchy availability). She is willing to move sooner than notice period, but I won’t be in a country then. I’m keen on having keys back asap (plus it minimises her debt), but I fear whether that would be sufficient if it’s handled by clerk.

Any advice is welcome.

Best wishes,

You need to make sure the tenancy has ended. Unless she has given you a valid notice to quit, her just agreeing to leave and then going is a bit borderline. She could return saying she’d changed her mind. You really need a deed of surrender signed by her and you and a witness. This has to be dated to when it is actually signed.

If you trust her to go, then you could book the professional to do the checkout and then execute the deed when you return.

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Thank you David for your reply. I’n surprised to hear about the deed of surrender. I thought that as we are already pass the fixed period, it is me who needs to give her 2 months notice and I’m just offering her earlier move out date so she can minimise her debt. I will not be aiming to instantly rent out the property so it’s likely to stay empty till last day of notice anyways so even when if she starts to go funny it won’t be hosting any new tenants yet. it sounds like if at all she will move out maybe week earlier at best and if at all so hopefully not much room for her to play games. Would her written declaration in our email trail not suffice as notice? Usually when either myself or my former tenants were serving notices email is all it took and I always deemed it legally binding. Am I missing something?

Many thanks!

Tenancies can only be ended in a few very specific ways:

  1. Tenant notice
  2. Bailiffs enforcing a warrant of possession after a court order and following landlord notice
  3. Express or implied surrender.

Many landlords assume that if they serve a s21 notice and the tenant leaves, then the tenancy has ended. The notice on its own doesn’t end the tenancy. If, however, the tenant leaves, then this may be regarded as an implied surrender and the tenancy ends by operation of law. However, there have been cases where the landlord assumed the tenant had left, but they returned saying they’d just been away for a while. Landlords have been sued under such circumstances for illegal eviction.

Her email to you would not necessarily amount to notice as a tenants notice has to be clearly worded, give the required notice period and usually be on paper and signed. However, it may be evidence of an intention to surrender and if the email shows that you accepted it, then a court may not allow a claim of unlawful eviction. However, it depends on what’s written. If the tenant wrote "I will be leaving on " then you may be ok. If they wrote "I’m thinking about leaving on " then you probably not be ok as its not definite.

In the real world, the vast majority of tenancies just end because the tenant moves out and doesn’t return, whether or not the correct procedure was followed. Its only when a tenant tries to re-claim possession, either maliciously or otherwise, that you have to be able to rely on your procedures.

It is possible for notice to be served by email, but written/signed paper authority from both tenant and landlord, specifying the email address, has to precede the notice. For other reasons, it is not advisable for a landlord to serve notice by email.

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What i would do is e mail and text tenant saying something like we have received your notice to terminate the tenancy and will vacate by the the unpteenth of rapscallion. Please leave keys blah blah… if they dont answer just get on with it.
No need for you to be there when tenant is there so i ask them to please text when theyve gone then i assess.
Always take gloves and maybe a couple of tools
Ref professional check out well if you had it done at check in and there is damage maybe if its clean ish and undamaged why bother

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Amazing, thank you both for those advices. It worked out and my tenant-from-hell has peacefully departed today. Decided to take check out clerk eventually as knew there will be deductions from deposit to be taken (so just to have independent party stating the damages), but also because I couldn’t digest seeing her again…I’ll be damn if she pays me her outstanding 3 months rent in two weeks as agreed on repayment plan.