I have so many members (and non-members) telling me how they have problems with repairs after exchanging properties. Some seem to be general repairs like a broken window handle and other repairs are more serious like holes in walls and broken electrics.

So you are going to view the property. Hopefully you will view it more than once, but either way please take note of a few things. If the current tenant doesn’t want you looking around (in cupboards and under sinks etc) ask why? Certainly act with a bit of caution.

I suggest that you check the:
Condition of walls and ceiling plaster (cracks,
holes in interior walls)
Operation of central heating and heaters
(ensure all radiators heat up and the tenant
shows you how to use them)
Operation/condition of windows and check
for missing/broken handles/catches. Are all
the window lock keys available?
Condition of doors (surface damage and
Condition of electrical fittings (light switches
and fittings, sockets, extractor fans, alarms)
Condition of kitchen units (check for loose
doors and drawer fronts, check everything
Condition of plumbing items generally (check
sinks, basins, bath and WCs for leaks, test
taps and flush WCs, dripping taps)
Finally and most importantly, check with the
current occupier which items they intend to
take with them when they move out. There
have been occasions when tenants have
fitted their own gas fire, for example, and
taken it when they leave.
Result: new occupier had no gas fire!!
If possible take photos.
Also, make a list of things that are being left. Make sure both parties sign this.

In theory, landlords should inspect each property. The landlords should then have their own list. In practice, I am not aware of any statistics that are available to show that landlords really do a complete a thorough check. The problems arise for tenants when some do the check and stick to it rigidly, thus the new tenant can’t have any repairs done for quite a while. I have heard of one case – “No repairs for three years”!
Other landlords are more flexible.
But you have to remember, that when you agree to exchange your property you do so on the premise that it is “Taken as Seen”. So if you don’t look properly, you won’t know of any problems that may be hiding and that may come back to haunt you at a later date. If the current tenant says that they are due a new bathroom or kitchen etc – ask for the paperwork.

I am not saying that you shouldn’t trust anyone – just take a few precautions. Do your own checks. If no time – ask to come back again. Ask for the landlords copy of their inspection results as well.

Most exchanges go well but please be prepared when viewing. This could be the house of your dreams. For some – its been a nightmare.