Landlord News,Lettings News

Student accommodation check-in guidelines from The DPS

Em Morley - September 15, 2020

An updated list of guidelines from The Deposit Protection Service (DPS) has been released to support students, landlords, and letting agents.

These guidelines for check-in reports have been put together to help when arranging accommodation moves during the coronavirus pandemic. It encourages all involved to follow Government rules aimed at reducing the spread of the virus.

Matt Trevett, Managing Director at The DPS, said: “Some students may not know what to expect when moving during the pandemic, and many landlords and agents are still adjusting to how public health measures affect setting up new tenancies.

“This guidance, which takes into account latest government advice on moving, will help ensure a safe and efficient move in line with the regulations, as well as help avoid disputes at the end of a tenancy.”

These are the nine student accommodation check-in guidelines provided by The DPS:

1. Understand government restrictions on moving 

Members of only two households can enter a property at any one time in England. Students form a ‘household’ when they move into a property together, which means physical check-ins with either a landlord or letting agent can take place. Separate guidance exists in Wales and Scotland.

2. If possible, reduce the number of tenants attending the check-in

If tenants are undertaking a joint tenancy for the property, they are acting as a single party, so only one needs to attend the check-in. If each student has a separate tenancy for their individual room, everyone should attend as well as receive and sign their own inventory.

3. Perform a check-in when the house is empty

If possible, it is best to perform a check-in when the property is empty to reduce the risk of the virus transferring from the belongings of existing tenants to visitors.

4. Electronic check-ins are also permitted 

If a non-physical check-in is preferable, landlords or agents can prepare the report in advance and then pass it to the relevant tenants via email or post, along with any photographs.

5. Stick to the facts

The check-in information should be thorough, factual, and accurately describe the condition of the carpets, walls, furniture, and garden. It should note items’ age, wear, and existing damage. Using a third-party inventory service to record the condition of furniture and fixtures can also help prevent disputes at the end of a tenancy. 

6. Take photos of the property

Good quality, colour photos, along with the check-in report, provide the best evidence during any dispute. Date-stamped images taken on or close to the check-in date are optimal. Tenants who want to take their own photographs should agree with the landlord or agent a suitable time to enter the property.

7. Tenants should study the draft report and send back written amendments within seven days

If tenants don’t amend a draft check-in report within seven days of receiving it in person, via post or by email, the landlord or agent can assume the tenants agree with it.

8. Put conversations about the property’s condition in writing 

Tenants, landlords, and agents who speak about the property’s condition should also follow up by post or email in order to keep a record and remove doubt should anyone need to refer to their conversations at a later date.

9. The tenants’ agreement is vital 

Landlords, agents, and tenants should hold onto the final, agreed version of the report as well as any email trail or postal receipts relating to it. A landlord who can’t get a digital or physical signature from a tenant should ask them for an email or text confirming their agreement – and keep a copy.