During the Covid-19 lockdown, landlords, letting agents and tenants have raised questions about how the lockdown is affecting normal tenancy processes such as check-ins, maintenance and check-out inspections. In response to the confusion, Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) has created a Covid-19 FAQ page, which offers advice on tenancy deposit protection during this unprecedented situation.
In this week’s #AskTDS, a landlord asks: “My tenant is moving out and I am concerned they may have Covid-19. How does this affect the check-out inspections and deposit release?”
When the tenant moves out, the check-out should be conducted as close to the end of tenancy date as possible, to ensure the condition of the property isn’t affected by any other activities carried out by contractors, cleaners or prospective tenants viewing the property. This helps to avoid any doubt about how the property was left by the tenant, which in turn minimises the risk of disputes over the deposit.
However, it is not that straightforward during a lockdown, especially if it is suspected that the tenant may have had Covid-19. A check-out could put the landlord, letting agent or inventory clerk at risk of contracting the virus.
We firstly recommend you keep an auditable trail of communications between you and the tenant, taking care to explicitly explain your actions and arrangements. For example, advise the tenant that you are unable to conduct a check-out inspection immediately, which will mean a delay in the return of the deposit.
Ensure you follow up each email and save each response as evidence. This will help the adjudicator understand why decisions were made and why delays were incurred, should a claim be made.
Following the Government’s three-week lockdown extension (announced on the 17th April 2020), we recognise this may further delay the check-out inspection beyond the previously suggested four-week timescale. In this instance, TDS advises continued communication with the tenant about the deposit. TDS will happily facilitate discussions between the tenants and landlord or agent to help reach an agreement if a dispute is raised. We can also advise on cleaning charges and how to approach damage.
If the tenant has raised a dispute, it’s important that you contact TDS with supporting evidence if the check-out is to be delayed even further. This will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
To find out more about how Covid-19 is affecting tenancy deposits, please visit the TDS Covid-19 FAQ page.
NRLA: If you are a landlord and would like to keep up to date with any changes that may affect you or your responsibilities, you can receive 25% off your first year’s membership when joining here.
Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is a Government-approved scheme for the protection of tenancy deposits; TDS offers both Insured and Custodial protection and provides fair adjudication for disputes that arise over the tenancy deposits that we protect.
We provide invaluable training in tenancy deposit protection and disputes for agents and landlords through the TDS Academy as well as joining with MOL to provide the Technical Award in Residential Tenancy Deposits.
TDS can only comment on the process for our scheme, other deposit protection schemes may have a different process/require different steps. Content is correct at the time of writing.
These views are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of TDS, its officers and employees.