Archives February 2021

What Does Clean Really Mean?

According to the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), the biggest reason for a deposit dispute is cleanliness, coming up in over half of all deposit disputes. What this really comes down to is understand what does clean really mean? Or rather, in terms of the property specifically, what does clean really mean? Let’s look into things a little more closely. 

what does clean mean
Image from Pixabay

The Two Issues When It Comes To What Clean Really Means 

There are two main issues when it comes to determining what clean really means for a property. The first is that a landlord had the property professionally cleaned before the tenant moved in, but when the tenant moved out they decided to clean it themselves (assuming they cleaned it at all). There is documentation to prove the original clean was done by experts, that it included the carpets, the oven, the windows, and so on, but of course, there is no corresponding documentation once the tenant moves out. This can be the cause of a dispute. 

Or, the landlord chooses not to have professional cleaners into the property, hoping that whatever the previous tenant did when they left would be enough to make the place look presentable when the new tenants moved in. When the new tenants leave, they don’t use professional cleaners because, well, why should they? The landlord didn’t. This can also lead to a dispute. 

Who Is Right? 

According to most tenancy agreements (although it’s always best to double-check your own), the tenant only has to leave the property in the same state as they found it. The landlord shouldn’t expect to receive their property back looking better than they handed it over. 

So, in the first case above when the landlord used a professional cleaning company and the results were good, they might expect the tenant to do the same. In the second case, when the results were not so good (and in some cases downright bad), that’s how the tenant has every right to leave the property. Of course, they might choose to clean it up or hire professionals, but the choice when technically be theirs. 

what does clean mean
Image from Pixabay

How Does An Inventory Help? 

Without an inventory, it’s hard to tell who’s right and who’s wrong. Yes, the landlord may well have the documentation to prove that the job was carried out professionally, but was it to a high standard? Perhaps the tenant moved in and discovered it was still pretty filthy and that areas had been missed. Or maybe the tenant moved out and cleaned up, but the landlord doesn’t think that it’s clean enough – what does clean mean, after all? It’s subjective. 

Unless there is a good inventory that details the cleanliness of the property, no one is going to know. 

In other words, an inventory from Looksy Inventories is going to help with this kind of dispute and many more. Contact us today to find out more. 

Top Reasons Leading To Deposit Disputes

Deposit disputes are the last thing either tenant or landlord wants at the end of a tenancy. The tenant wants their money back, and the landlord doesn’t want to have to withhold it because doing so means there must be a problem in the property that the tenant is responsible for, and that the deposit is going to have to pay for. It’s bad news all round. And this is why an inventory is always so useful; disputes may still happen, but they can be cleared up a lot more quickly and everyone can move on. 

So what is the biggest reason that leads to deposit disputes? Perhaps unsurprisingly, its cleanliness. Next in line is damage, and the third reason for landlords to withhold the deposit is having to redecorate. What you might not expect to find is that the fourth reason is gardening problems and that rental arrears come in way down the list at number five.

deposit disputes
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Increase In Deposit Disputes 

Between April 2019 and March 2020, there was a definite increase in deposit disputes, up by five percent on the previous year. This could, of course, be because more tenancies were taken up during that year than the previous year, meaning that more tenants were leaving properties too. 

The problem is often not down to neglect or an intent to cause any harm or problems; it’s simply that, particularly in the case of the cleanliness of the property, that the inventory was not clear (assuming there was an inventory at all) about exactly what the state of the property was. Some inventories rely far too much on photographs, for example, whereas a photo along with a description is much more helpful. 

What’s even more helpful is ensuring there is a proper check-in and check-out; any queries can be answered and any doubts put to rest. Although it might take a little more time, although it might cost a little more money, it does mean that deposit disputes are much less likely. 

Contact Looksy Inventories Today 

To put your mind at ease, contact Looksy Inventories today. We understand the entire inventory process and produce easy-to-read, detailed reports that both landlord and tenant can agree to before the tenancy begins. 

Looksy Inventories Has A YouTube Channel

At Looksy Inventories, we’re always looking for new ways to engage with our clients, potential clients, and those who need some help and advice about lettings, landlords, tenants, and, of course, inventories. That’s why we’ve created a brand new YouTube channel.

We intend to post regular (workload dependent, of course!) videos that go into detail about rental properties and everything you might need to know about all aspects of renting one yourself or being a landlord. There’s a lot to learn, and our videos will be entertaining, informative, and, perhaps most important of all, they will be real.

Here’s a taster of what to expect. It’s our introduction video where you can ‘meet’ Dean, inventory clerk extraordinaire, and find out more about Looksy Inventories in general. Enjoy (and do please subscribe – there’s a lot more to come).

Landlord Insurance: Why Is It Important?

You might think of landlord insurance as being simply home insurance that has an added element or two within it. This is essentially correct, although there is more to landlord insurance than that. Read on to find out more. 

landlord insurance
Photo by Matthew Waring on Unsplash

When Is Landlord Insurance Necessary? 

There are a number of times when this special insurance is necessary and even compulsory. These include:

  • When your mortgage company requires it (buy to let lenders often make it a mandatory condition of the mortgage)
  • When it is part of the tenancy agreement 

It’s not a legal obligation to have landlord insurance, and it is your choice in the end, but if you want peace of mind, and if you want to have a mortgage without any issues, it is something you’re certainly going to want to consider. 

What To Think About When Getting Specialist Insurance 

Before you purchase landlord insurance there are some important points to consider. Think them all through carefully before making a decision, because there are many different insurance providers, each one different to the next (or at least, that’s how it seems – the end product might be very similar). 

The first thing to think about is that it is a different entity to home insurance, meaning that if you have home insurance on the property already and then choose to rent it out, you’ll need to cancel that insurance and get specific rental insurance to cover you. 

If you have an HMO you’ll need specific HMO landlord insurance as this will be specifically tailored to your needs. Even if you run an Airbnb, this insurance will work for you. You might even be able to insure multiple properties on one policy, so if you have a portfolio, or you’re planning to have one, this is something to bear in mind. 

landlord insurance
Image from Pixabay

If you think that specialist insurance isn’t necessary, that is, as we’ve said, your choice. However, it is worth remembering that around 9% of tenants in the private sector do land in arrears at some point, and evicting a tenant takes an average of 42 weeks. Can you afford not to have landlord insurance? 

Plus there is more than ‘just’ the tenant to think about. You’ll need to consider the location of the property too. Is there a higher crime rate in the area? Is there a risk of flooding? Insurance cover can be a reassurance, just in case, although do be aware that you might pay more for your landlord insurance due to these factors. 

Insurance And Your Property Inventory 

A good, detailed property inventory, just like the ones Looksy Inventories provides in Sevenoaks and beyond, can be extremely useful when claiming on your landlord insurance. It will show just what the property was like before the tenant moved in, and once they leave, of course, but if there is significant damage from flooding, fire, or a crime, the inventory can be used to prove that damage and show the extent of it. 

In every case, the inventory from Looksy can speed up the insurance claim and make it a much smoother process. Find out more by looking around our site for prices and examples, and contacting us for more advice and to book your inventory, check-in, or check-out today. 

What To Do When Tenants Leave Things Behind – Part 2

When tenants leave things behind, we’ve already seen that it can cause a number of problems for the landlord, and there are various steps they have to take to comply with the law (even if that does mean they are out of pocket or inconvenienced in some way).

tenants leave things behind
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Our first post on the subject of what happens when tenants leave things behind focused on those steps and explained in detail just what the landlord has to do before they can think about returning a deposit (or not), or disposing of any unwanted ‘junk’ or furniture or anything else that has been left by the previous tenant. This post is about what else can be done, and what other questions a landlord might have when tenants leave things behind.

Is There Anything Else I Can Do?

Being stuck in a situation where tenants leave things behind is annoying at best and disastrous at worst; it can mean that you have to delay re-renting your property, and you may even have to pay for storage or disposal (although this can be claimed back through the deposit, of course). In any case, no matter what, when tenants leave things behind they are going to be giving you a lot more to deal with that you need to, especially when you’re trying to find new tenants for the property.

Something that might speed up the process and give your tenants some momentum and impetus to actually remove their possessions without you having to get involved is the idea that, if they haven’t taken everything away, then they haven’t given ‘vacant possession’, and that means they can be liable to continue paying rent until such time as the items are dealt with. Although this usually applies in commercial leases, it could be just what you need to persuade the tenants to make a decision about their old stuff more quickly. Mention it before they move out, and those it will be a rarer event for tenants to leave things behind.


Not everyone leaves things behind on purpose, especially smaller items. However, coming back to retrieve them might not be possible if they have moved far away, are unwell, or anything else that might prevent them from returning. In this case, a negotiation might be a useful tactic.

tenants leave things behind
Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

If you understand their situation, and they are willing to discuss the matter, it might be possible to arrange for a third party to collect the items, for example. It would mean you or your representative would need to be around to let the collector in, so of course you might find it easier to arrange all of this (although the cost would be the tenant’s responsibility).

If you’re having a lot of trouble reaching a fair result, it’s best to reach out to TDS or MyDeposits for advice.

Duty Of Care

When tenants leave things behind, any landlord might assume that, if the tenant expresses they no longer want the items and the landlord can dispose of them, that instead they can simply leave them in the property for the next tenant. However, although this does seem to be a potentially sensible idea (again, depending on what the items are), there are some things to take into consideration at this point.

Firstly, does the furniture come with a fire safety label? Have the electrics had a PAT test? If not, you’ll need to get them inspected and approved – and you’ll have to do it regularly too (PAT testing needs to be carried out every five years).

Secondly, if you leave the items in the property and include them on your inventory as already being there, they are your responsibility. So although it might seem like a great thing if a tenant leaves behind a fridge freezer or dishwasher, for example, because new tenants aren’t going to have to pay out for their own, if something goes wrong you are responsible for fixing it. Often it can be easier not to have any furnishings or appliances in a property as there will be less for you to worry about.

If you want to use the items when tenants leave things behind – and you have permission to do so – then you can ask for them to be included on your tenancy agreement as a ‘gifted’ item. This essentially means that the tenant can use them, but you aren’t responsible for them. And, at the end of the tenancy, the tenant can take them with them. In fact, the tenant should take them with them otherwise the landlord will be in the same situation they were in before!

How To Prevent A Situation In Which Tenants Leave Things Behind

As we’ve said, mistakes happen, especially when moving the moving day is a stressful one and there are a million and one other things to consider. In this case, the issue of when tenants leave things behind is easily rectified. However, some landlords will have had major issues leading to major headaches in this situation, and they won’t want to go through it again. Although it’s never going to be possible to prevent it from happening entirely, there are some measures you can put in place to give you a fighting chance.

  1. Referencing your tenants will let you know how they treated their last rented property. Did they leave it in a good state? This is important to know.
  2. Include, in very simple terms, exactly what will happen if a tenant leaves any items behind. Make sure the tenant is aware of this clause before they sign the agreement.
  3. Regular inspections can be useful too. The landlord will get a feel for how the tenant is taking care of their property, and the tenant will know that the landlord is keeping an eye on things (not in an obtrusive way, of course!). Plus these inspections will help both parties get to know one another. They’ll be less likely to leave things if they know the landlord better.
  4. Once the tenant has given notice, ensure you write back to let them know you have received that notice, and to remind them of their responsibilities when they leave. Let them know there will be a check-out carried out too.

What To Do With The Things Tenants Leave Behind – Part 1

When you have a check-out report done at the end of a tenancy, it should be compared with the inventory done at the start of the tenancy, and it is going to highlight anything that is in the property that wasn’t there before; in other words, it’s going to highlight things tenants leave behind.

From large pieces of furniture to bags of rubbish to lost socks in the dryer, anything and everything that is in the property has to be catalogued.

Yet if there are things tenants leave behind (and it happens in around 52 percent of properties), what is a landlord supposed to do about them? It’s an annoyance at the very least, and if the landlord is searching for new tenants, it becomes even more of a problem. Those things tenants leave behind just shouldn’t be there, but since they don’t belong to the landlord, can they remove them? Dispose of them? Sell them? Read on to find out more.

things tenants leave behind
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Steps To Take With The Things Tenants Leave Behind

The very first thing to do – the first thing that you should do in any kind of dispute or area of concern, in fact – is to check the tenancy agreement. Ideally you will have a clause within that document that tells you exactly what you can and can’t do with the possessions and rubbish that have been left behind by tenants.

Remember; these clauses will need to be fair and they will need to be in line with the law. If you yourself have added a clause like this (or any clause) to the tenancy agreement, it’s best to get it checked over by a professional to ensure that you’re not going to have problems if you try to enact it.

What If There Is No Clause?

Not all rental agreements are going to include a clause about what to do with the things tenants leave behind – check yours now; if it doesn’t, it’s wise to add one, just to be on the safe side. Plus it will serve as a reminder for your tenants that they aren’t meant to be leaving anything of their behind when they do move out.

The main clause in a tenancy agreement will state that the property needs to be left in the same condition (or better) as it was when the tenant moved in. This is an easy clause to understand if the tenant has taken something away; a claim can be made on the deposit. But if they have added something, it’s much more difficult to work out.

In essence, the landlord becomes the ‘involuntary bailer’ for the things tenants leave behind, and it is their job to take care of those items. This is the law in the UK, but it’s a huge pain for any landlord, and they’re not going to want the hassle of dealing with it. Yet, without a clause written into the agreement, that’s exactly what they’ll have to do.

things tenants leave behind
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How To Act As An Involuntary Bailer

The landlord is going to want to deal with the issue of the things tenants leave behind as soon as possible once they have become the involuntary bailer. Here are the steps to take

Contact The Tenant

The first thing you will need to do about the things tenants leave behind is to contact the owner of those things. Find out what they want you to do with them. If they say you should dispose of them, get this request in writing, and ensure they know you’ll be charging them for the cost of that disposal – it can be taken from the deposit.

If the tenant chooses to come and take the items, you must let them. However, it’s a good idea to accompany them into the property.

Protect From Damage

Until such time as the tenant or their representative can collect the items, it is the landlord’s duty to protect them from damage. They might be things tenants leave behind, but you still need to ensure they are kept safe (even if they are going to be disposed of).

Take photographs of everything; this is your proof that all was well when you found the items. Also make a detailed list of everything that was left.

This can be an arduous task, and it’s what a check-out inventory is for, so even if you hadn’t considered needing one before, it would save you a lot of time and hassle to get one done now.

How Long Do You Have To Take Care Of Things Tenants Leave Behind?

This is a great question. The law says that you need to take care of things tenants leave behind for ‘a reasonable time’, but that is so vague as to be useless. In most cases, 21 days is a sensible time frame – that should give the tenant enough time to either let you know they want you to get rid of it all, or to come and get the stuff themselves.

After this ‘reasonable time’, the landlord can dispose of the items without permission. They can also sell them if they want to, but any funds that come from a sale like this will technically – legally, in fact – belong to the tenant for up to six years after the sale.

If you are intending to dispose or sell the things tenants leave behind because you haven’t had a response from your efforts at contact, you need to give written notice to the tenant telling them exactly what you intend to do. You are legally obliged to return the deposit within 30 days from the move out date. Giving a notice of 21 days for the collection of the items gives you up to a week to claim your loses if you move fast.

Legally the document to refer to is the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977. The notice must contain the following:

1.         Date of the notice

2.         The Bailor’s (tenants) name and other details if you have any

3.         The Bailee’s (landlords) name and address

4.         Your intention to dispose or sell the items if the tenant fails to collect them within the notice period

5.         The list and reasonable level of description of the items in question

6.         Instruction about how they can collect the belongings

7.         If you intend to sell, you must include the date and place of the sale. Also include that if items are sold cost for storage and selling fees will be deducted.

8.         Specify the amount, if any, which is payable by the bailor to the bailee in respect of the goods, and which became due before the giving of the notice.

things tenants leave behind
Photo by Gary Chan on Unsplash

What Else?

These are the first steps to take once you have had a check-out inventory and discovered that there are things tenants leave behind in your property. Part two will be out soon which will have some more specific examples of what else you might be able to do.

In the meantime, if you need any advice or assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact Looksy Inventories.

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