COVID 19 Tenants moving out - practicalities

My tenants are due to move out next week, but obviously we are now in lockdown. They think they can still move, which is ok by me. However, i do not understand how i am meant to do the inventory and check the property / the openrent inventory service is now suspended.
I dont want to give the deposit back until i know the state of the property and I dont know how we are practically going to do this. I should add that I have bad asthma so I cant personally do it due to the risks and my other half is a doctor so he is also pretty tied up at moment.
Are tenants even able to move in lockdown?


Yes. Similarly, I need to understand at which point someone is contractually obliged to move, because they have committed to a new property.
I have tenants moving out, but hadn’t accepted an offer from a new tenant before the lockdown.
I’m concerned I’ll be left with no tenants at all.

@Nicola conducting an inventory neccesarily requires someone attending the property to go through its condition. It is just one of those areas that is being made extremely difficult by the lockdown measures, and there’s not much anyone can do about it sadly. You could wait several days after the tenants move out before performing the report to minimise the chance of any residual virus. I understand it dies on nearly all surfaces after 72 hours. Another option would be to not conduct a checkout at all, return the full deposit and then trust that any money you lose will be made up for by a lack of void period between tenancies. Neither of these are ideal, however. It’s just a very tough time to run things as usual. Tenants are able to leave a property, yes.

@Elizabeth16, tenancies can be ended by mutual written agreement, by the tenant service notice, by activating a break clause, or by moving out and ceasing rental payments by the final day of the fixed term. In all those scenarios, if properly actioned by the tenant, the tenancy would usually be taken to have been terminated. OpenRent is still advertising properties to let, but we recommend people do not move unless they absolutely have to.


My tenants called me to give their notice yesterday. They are not currently at the property and with lockdown I don’t think it is viable for them to be able to move their furniture and belongings out and, as such, I can’t really end their tenancy until this occurs and release their deposit. Would you agree?

I’m obviously not going to continue to charge them rent but without being able to agree a moving out date I wondered if it is necessary to set out in an email that notice has been given and the end of tenancy will occur once a move out date has been agreed or within a reasonable period (3 weeks?) after the UK Government lockdown has ended. I get on well with my tenants and don’t anticipate any issues but I’m unsure if I need to formalise this for legal purposes.

Any thoughts gratefully received

This is the problem when borrowing money to have a buy to let and then the rent dries up. Its like sailing close to the wind. Many have done so with no cash reserve and will come unstuck

@Sam the problem i have is now today gov have said no one should be moving. If my tenants choose to leave i have no one moving in and wouldnt be able to check the property and i wouldnt want to give the full deposit back as i know they have broken the cooker hood and caused a leak by misuse. Therefore i am reliant on there being an inventory.
Ignoring the money loss from the issues caused by tenants, its more it is now supposedly illegal to move…

Hi Nicola, it’s not illegal to move house at the moment. Here’s the relevant guidance:

  • Home buyers and renters should, where possible, delay moving to a new house while measures are in place to fight coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Our advice is that if you have already exchanged contracts and the property is currently occupied then all parties should work together to agree a delay or another way to resolve this matter.
  • If moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, people must follow advice on staying away from others to minimise the spread of the virus.
  • In line with Government’s advice, anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, should follow medical advice which will mean not moving house for the time being, if at all possible. All parties should prioritise agreeing amicable arrangements to change move dates for individuals in this group, or where someone in a chain is in this group.

I appreciate the situation you are in and have asked one of the deposit schemes to produce guidance for our landlords who are facing this dilemma. Hopefully I will have something to share with you soon!


that URL is nothing to do with rentals its for buying/selling property

Although it’s preferable not to move during the lockdown I understand it’s still possible. I only have 2 rental properties but they are my only income for the present. My tenants at one of the properties will be moving on 21 April. This would represent a 50% drop in my income unless I rent the property out again. I certainly intend to readvertise again on OpenRent assuming the website is still advertising new lets, which I hope they are. I will also be showing prospective tenants around whilst observing the distancing recommendations. I will however conduct a lot more due diligence on prospective tenants before I even contemplate reference checking them and may even request FaceTime or Skype interviews.


absolutely right, we just have to be more carefull in every respect. dont forget , the Spanish flu killed 50million people in 1918

This is though and its the same

I do think that changing the date of move is better for health of all involved. I am letting them move as i have no choice but i think its the wrong thing to do. Theyre saying its for contractual reasons, but i think the receiving landlord should be discouraging it too. Anyway, i will let them move but need to delay giving an deposit back due to time delay to do a proper checkout etc.

The deposit schemes are also giving different advice which is difficult. I am letting the tenants move, but they have to courier keys to me as i cannot go to the flat., I do feel the guidelines are in favour of tenants as normal, I as a landlord cannot go out due to COVID restrictions, but the tenants are allowed to do what they want. It is highly frustrating, if one of them had COVID i would have to let them stay, yet as i am high risk and cant do my part fully on checkout they are still allowed to leave.


Have you thought about doing the remote check-in checkout as i I’ve just done one and when I next go to the property which could be in quite a few weeks time I shall conclude however regardless to anything I have returned the deposit instantly as it’s the right thing to do humanely as they probably need the money for food or suchlike and at the end of the day if they have caused any damage to any high degree i’ve just done one and when I next go to the property which could be in quite a few weeks time I shall conclude however regardless to Emma and I have returned the deposit instant that as it’s the right thing to do humanely as they probably need the money for food or suchlike and at the end of the day if they have caused any damage to any high degree I intend to re-contact them to negotiate and failure to negotiation would only but result in legal proceedings so don’t forget that you have the civil procedure to follow the deposit is not everything you know as at the end of the day deposit so I contestable so holding onto it for longer than you need to is unnecessary at any time and could be seen as wholly unreasonable under the circumflex stance says in the middle of a pandemic.

However with this in mind do also note that I am extremely confident that very little damage would’ve been paused as I have only met all of my tenants to the extent that I am assured that they would be more scared of legal proceedings and I would For instance so the end result Of all of this would actually boil down to how heavily vetted the tenants are that are in situ and how good of a job you did before commencement of tenancy that would hold a very big weight on how you deal with the vacated right now.

We are going to lose hands down with no rent coming in for quite some time that is without any doubt and if there’s a few hundred pounds worth of damages I will take that on the chin under the circumstance and I would advise you something similar.

Regarding moving then I am incredulous that any landlord is allowing if you and or allowing commencement of the tenancy is in any capacity join this is crazy season however I try and concentrate on reality rather than personal preference and beliefs as it is only the reality of the situation that are pertinent.

And lastly you are completely right that everything is balanced in the tenants favour so this is something to note when you’re holding back deposit monies in the middle of the pandemic as this would not be seen flavoursome to a court I would suggest.

Why don’t you offer a lot less rent for the person to stay.

Why don’t you carry out a Skype check out service and record the whole Skype conversation and video call on your phone?

Why don’t you get the tenants to simply post the key back through the letterbox of the property they are Vacating?

Why don’t you demand lots and lots of pictures via email?

If you have nobody moving into the property when they’re moving out why don’t you offer them free rent for a month or a massive discount to try and persuade them to stay for longer or you could even offer it for three months so then you can do a proper check out with them.

I hope my message helps you

2 posts were split to a new topic: My tenants asked to move out early

As an update, my tenants moved out yesterday, i am yet to receive my keys back! I told them they needed to use same day courier but they didnt. So now i need to work on that. Hopefully i will get the keys sometime today. I am aiming to go to the property on Friday then as it is at least 72 hours after and hopefully will be able to do a checkout after that. Hope others have found a way with theirs, now its just frustrating that its sitting empty!

They are still liable for council tax if they have the keys. NOt you. in fact I had a tenant I let go early last year and he had to pay the council tax up to the end of his lease… Its not illegal to move, to buy or to sell or to check your property its just reccomended you dont

You should have a spare set of keys surly?