When vacating a rental property, it is vital that it is left in a good condition, the same as how it was found, otherwise you could lose your rental deposit, according to Marinda Bienz and Samantha Heuvel, rental agents with Seeff Southern Suburbs.
In today’s marketplace, tenants need a good record, and this means good conduct during your tenancy and leaving the property in the same state as you found it, say the agents.
Background checks and inspections
Landlords now want background checks on tenant behaviour in addition to credit and affordability checks. Ingoing and outgoing inspections are no longer just a nice to have, but legal requirements to safeguard your deposit says, Bienz and Heuvel.
The property should be left clean and restored in time for the next tenant to move in, before handover which is normally by the latest 12pm (midday) on the commencement day of the new tenant’s lease, usually on the 1st of the month. Moving is stressful and nothing is worse than running late with new tenants waiting in the driveway with their moving truck, they add.
Start preparing the week before by restoring any damage and making repairs where necessary. Holes must be plugged, and the walls washed and painted if needed. All lights must have working light bulbs. Any loose hinges or door handles should be tightened, taps should not be dripping either.
The property must be thoroughly cleaned including steam cleaning the carpets. This includes walls, floors, fittings, windows, and cupboards. The kitchen, bathrooms, and garages must also be clean. Failing this, a professional cleaning service might need to be called in and the costs deducted from the deposit.
The garden and swimming pool (if applicable) must also be clean. Everything must be in working order from the plugs and light switches to the stove, geyser, pool pump, creepy, and garage doors. There should be two sets of working keys and remotes which must be handed over on the day when you vacate the property.
All garden refuse and house rubbish must be removed from the property and the bins left clean for the new people moving in, say the agents.
PG van der Linde, rental manager for Seeff Pretoria East says that fair wear and tear are acceptable, but any damage beyond that will need to be repaired by the landlord and the costs deducted from the deposit. Tenants should not wait until it is time to vacate the property before highlighting maintenance issues, by then it is too late.
The incoming and outgoing inspections are absolutely vital to ensuring that the condition of the property is recorded in writing. Responsible tenants should look after the property as if it is their own and raise any maintenance issues promptly.
How can tenants ensure they get their deposit back?
The tenant’s deposit together with interest must be refunded within 14 days. If there are damages to the property, then the deposit will be used to pay for repairs for such damages and the balance returned to the tenant.
Proof of the damage and cost of repairs must be provided. Disputes regarding the deposit can be referred to the Rental Housing Tribunal.