what to do when leaving a property

What to Do When Leaving a Rental Property

When leaving a rental property, it’s important to follow procedure to ensure that you receive your deposit back and secure good references from your old landlord.

You may be leaving because your agreed term has come to an end or you may have served notice as you are moving to a different property (either another rental or perhaps a freehold purchase). Whatever your reasons for leaving a rental property you may find our guide to moving home useful.

Leaving a Rental Property

Serving Notice

Firstly, if you intend vacating a property which you are currently renting you will need to serve notice to the current landlord and/or the lettings agent. You should find a copy of the original tenancy agreement that you signed to ensure that you do so in accordance with the terms and conditions agreed.

You are commonly required to give at last two calendar months notice following the initial rental period to which you signed up for. If you agreed a 12 month let, then you can serve notice before the end of the 10th month that you don’t intend to renew your lease. If you wish to move out before the agreed 12 months then you may have to pay an additional fee so do check the terms of your lease.

Some landlords or agents also stipulate the means by which formal notice must be served and this is often required by post rather than email.

Cancel Utility Contracts

Once you have served your notice and you have an agreed date by which you must vacate the premises, you should make arrangements with all of the utility providers to cancel/transfer services. Broadband, satellite TV and telephone services providers may issue a settlement account if you have not completed a minimum period of your agreement with them. Utility companies should also be advised in advance that you are moving but they will also require an agreed closing meter reading to finalise your accounts.

read electricity meter leaving rental property

Advise the utility companies BEFORE you move out but also take a meter reading on the day you vacate. Image via Pixabay.

You will also need to contact the local council to finalise your council tax as well as other official agencies including (but not limited to):

  • DVLA
  • HMRC
  • Bank and/or building society
  • Employer
  • Credit card provider
  • Doctor
  • Dentist
  • Schools (if applicable)
  • Mobile phone provider
  • Insurance and pension providers
  • Any other subscription services

You may want to set up a postal redirect to help you catch any mail before your new address is set up in the various systems.

Find Inventory Paperwork

When you originally moved into your rental property you should have been ‘checked-in’ by an independent agent who will have made a detailed assessment about the condition of the property and (where applicable) the furnishings.

Most modern check ins conducted by a good lettings agent should include digital documentation of any damage or issues which were there when you moved in.

It is your responsibility as a tenant to advice your landlord and/or the letting agents about any damage or deterioration to the property during your rental period. If you have done so then gather any documentary evidence you have about any defects that have become an issue.

You should thoroughly check the inventory paperwork taking note to ensure that all items included with your rental are still at the premises and in good working order. Missing items must be replaced on a like for like basis to avoid incurring any charges

Deep Clean

When leaving a rental property, you must return the premises to the same condition you found them in (or better). This means employing a deep clean method for the whole premises.

It is advisable to leave at least one full day to be able to do this when the property has been vacated of all your belongings and free from clutter, packing boxes and furniture. Don’t underestimate the time that a clean like this can take. Most people employ the services of a specialist company but if you intend doing this yourself then be prepared for some hard work. Before you go ahead and do  the clean yourself then you should check your rental agreement as some landlords add special conditions requesting a professional clean.

deep clean when leaving a rental property

A deep clean is hard work and need to be done thoroughly to avoid incurring charges. Image via Flickr.

It is worth remembering that cleaning is the number one cause for disputes on the repayment of deposits when it comes to leaving a rental property.

Each room should be thoroughly inspected for damage and deterioration and any minor issues should be remedied. Anything that requires specialist maintenance or repair should be noted.

Once defects have been noted, it’s time to get cleaning. Work through the property one room at a time paying attention to every single area from the cornicing, ceiling and light fittings down to the skirting and floor. Carpets should be cleaned using a professional carpet cleaner and wood floors must be cleaned and polished to ensure that all scuff marks have been eradicated.

Many walls are able to be wiped but check before applying any kind of detergent that you aren’t going to be damaging the paintwork.

Once the property is clean, do a final check to ensure that lightbulbs are all working as these are a chargeable item and it is more cost effective to replace these yourself.

Final Handover

On the day of handover, always attend the final inspection with the landlord and/or letting agent/inventory clerk.

Any issues that arise should be dealt with swiftly and if the cleaning is not to standard you may need to contact the cleaning company for a re-clean (if you used one).

Make sure that you hand over all sets of keys that were issued to you and that you leave your forwarding details.

Any defects that are evident at the time of handover should be agreed and noted with reference made to whether these have been raised before.

Before leaving the property, take readings from the utility meters with the landlord or agent so that you have an agreed transfer reading.

leaving rental property handover

If you can’t attend the handover, make sure you lock up properly before giving back the keys. Image via Flickr.

Once you have formally handed over the keys, you should follow up with an email or letter requesting your deposit back. At this point, it is worth committing to paper any verbal agreements that were made on the issue of defects during the handover. This will help if there is any dispute on your deposit at a later stage.

If there are no disputes, then your deposit should be returned to you within 10 days.

You may find our guide to tenant deposit rights helpful.

If you need any assistance with finding your next rental property or would like some impartial advice on leaving a rental property and the moving out process then contact Property Assistant. We’re here to help; wherever you are on the property ladder.

Featured image via Flickr.