Check out the Checking-in process
Okay, you’ve found a property to rent. Your reference application has been approved and the tenancy agreement is signed and sealed. But instead of simply handing over the keys, the agent now wants to involve you in a checking-in process. More admin, more paperwork, more time.
Before you get stressed, it’s worth knowing that the process is about far more than box-ticking. The check-in process can help you get familiar with how your new home works. It’s also key to the process that happens when you check-out at the end of a tenancy. If you want to be sure you get your deposit back when you move on, pay attention to the process when you move in. Yes, checking-in is carried out to protect the landlord’s interests, but it’s also designed to protect yours, and having an idea of what’s involved will stand you in good stead.
Firstly, you do need to be there. You’ll be asked to agree and sign documents which relate to your understanding of the condition of the property and the state and workings of key fixtures and supplies. For example, you’ll be asked to verify meter readings, and shown where stop taps and the fuse box are located. The agent or his representative should take you through everything, but make sure you check that any appliances are working, that the property can be secured and that you have the appropriate keys. If there’s an alarm system installed, make sure you understand its operation and any codes.
It’s essential that you study the inventory and compare what’s written there with what you can see. Inventories are more than lists of contents and can be very specific about the condition of the property, its fixtures and any furnishings. If, for example, there are cracked tiles in the bathroom, but the damage is not mentioned in the inventory, don’t sign to say you agree the bathroom is in pristine condition. Make sure the cracks are noted and that the inventory is amended, taking photos if necessary. Check the inside and the outside of the property, and if your role as a tenant includes any gardening or maintenance of outside spaces include an inspection of the condition of those spaces when you move in. Sign documents only when you agree with what they say, and make sure you have a copy.
When you move on at the end of the tenancy, the inventory you signed at check-in will be compared to a new version and the landlord, agent or his representative will be looking for damage, undue wear and tear or missing items. They want to recoup the cost of any damage from your deposit so having a clear agreed starting position is important. If you spotted the cracked tiles when you checked in, and info about the damage was included in an amended and signed check-in inventory, you won’t be expected to stand the cost of repair. You’ll have the evidence you need to prove that you didn’t cause the problem.
Yes, it’s admin. Yes, it might feel like a chore when you want to get on with the exciting part of moving into your new home, but a formal check-in protects your interests and your deposit. It ensures you’re only paying for power you have used and gives you a clear understanding of what’s expected of you as a tenant. It’s all part of having a good relationship with the landlord, and if you start off on the right foot, you’ll probably finish on it.
Enjoy your new home.