End of Lease Nightmares for Homeowners

Distressed Man
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The process of moving out can turn into a nightmare for both the owner and the tenant. If you ask any property owner, they all could share at least a few mishaps they've had with tenants. The longer you've been on the market, the more stories you'll have to tell. Both good and bad. I live in Melbourne and I've seen quite a few things. The good news is some of the bad ones could be avoided if you know what to look out for. Maybe by reading this, you could get an image of how to spot if something is not right at the end of the lease.

The Contract - Who's obligated to do what

One of the most important things is the tenants have to clean the whole property. They can do it themselves but in it's recommendable to hire a company that does professional end of lease cleaning. It's necessary to have a contract to protect both parties. However, it can be quite difficult to know when someone is in violation of the agreement. It can often be down to discretion, interpretation and even be dependent entirely on the relationship between both parties. There are many other things to consider like if the tenant has decorated during the rental period or purchased some small items of furniture or electrical appliances that add to the comfort of the place. I have found that the biggest difficulty is the tenants not leaving the accommodation in the same condition it was found. Surprisingly, many would rather lose their deposits than clean the place up. Which could turn out to be a minor problem, as long as the deposit is enough to cover the cost of the cleaning.

Real-life tenant horror stories

I, as a property owner, have come across some damage, admittedly unintentional, but definitely avoidable. I understand why the tenants wanted to cover them up - they are too afraid of speaking up when the problem first appears. Then they put it off until it's too late. And when it finally comes time to move out the last thing they want is more problems. If any tenants are reading - we would an honest and timely explanation is appreciated more in this situation. And to the landlords - I'll share with you a few of my horror stories.

  • A tea light candle had been lit without a holder on the top of a television. It melted a perfect hole the plastic casing - the hole was covered with a small love heart light.
  • In the kitchen, a vase of fresh flowers was deliberately placed to hide a burned table top.
  • The worst for me was a cigarette burn in a mattress. It had burned through from the top of the duvet, through all of the covers and bedding. To be honest, I was amazed that the people and the apartment were still standing. After the initial feelings of shock and disbelief, I was truly relieved that nothing serious had come of this.

How to spot if something's wrong

There are many ways to mask and hide damage. When things look too good to be true (maybe they are) you might want to keep on looking. It's your place, your cash and your effort. If you are anything like me, you will go the extra mile to make your place look good and welcoming on the moving-in day in the hope that this care and attention will be respected and reciprocated.

In reality though, if you visit the rental within the first few months you can judge how responsible your tenants are. Most people do not live in a showroom environment but a little disorganisation is easy to spot from blatant negligence and thoughtlessness. If you are worried, keep a close eye on things and don't let it go unnoticed. I have cleaned many a house or apartment for the new tenants and I make sure that it is clear they need to be responsible or they will loose their deposit.

Don't leave it to the day your tenants move out to check the property, arrange to go at least a 2 weeks before and make sure you are clear about the purpose of your visit, if you don't like what you see it could be worthwhile going over what you are not happy with and again make it crystal clear that their deposit and a future reference is at stake.

I would hope that most people have a contract that allows them reasonable access and have some time to invest at the end of a lease do a little checking to prevent any alarming scene, however, if this is not the case call someone in. As long as they have an inventory and have some direction you can drop in when they have finished, finding your place fit for a king. Or for the next tenant of course.

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