Usually when we do a Check Out based on a check list or better still, a correctly documented Inventory, our detective skills are limited to finding misplaced items such as chairs which have been moved to other rooms, or pictures which the tenants have carefully stowed in the cupboard under the stairs.
Recently we had to deal with a property where the landlord had done his own inventory with what appeared to be a full list of contents. We conducted a Check Out carefully as we knew that there was already a dispute over a number of issues, including unpaid rent, by now five months as the landlord had failed to take action. The tenant had occupied the property for ten years.
After the tenant departed the landlord arrived. Pointing at a hole next to the sink he asked where the washing machine was. No washing machine on the check list, but we did email the tenant to ask for further information. The tenant stated that the washing machine was his and he had taken it with him. Indeed he supplied a photo although it wasn’t possible to identify where it was taken.
Meanwhile the landlord supplied his own photo of the missing washing machine and strangely an email to the tenants stating that it wasn’t part of the tenancy agreement.
The two photos were not the same washing machine. The original machine had broken and the landlord told the tenant to buy a new one. The landlord “thought he might have reimbursed the tenant by way of a rent reduction”, but couldn’t prove it.
Thus, our job was really finished when we completed the initial inventory, which didn’t mention it. For us, although we tried to establish extra information, in reality there was no information at all which could possibly substantiate the landlord’s claim should the matter go to adjudication. All we could do was to suggest that the landlord get an accurate independent inventory made ready for the next tenants, which he did. This time there was no washing machine, and our photo shows that empty spot!