After the tenancy agreement, an inventory is probably the most important document for both a landlord and tenant.
For this week’s Top Tip Tuesday, our lettings team are sharing all the things landlords need to know about a professional property inventory, plus some exclusive top tips to ensure you get the most out of your inventory.
What is an inventory for a property?
An inventory is a detailed document that highlights all the contents and condition of the property when a tenant moves in and when they have moved out.
The two inventory documents can then be compared so a landlord can decide whether to claim any deductions from the tenant’s deposit.
What should a property inventory include?
An inventory should not simply be a small list of contents, but rather a detailed schedule of condition.
It should include a thorough report on the condition of each room within the property, this includes:
- Walls and ceilings
- Fixtures and fittings
- Paint colours
- Cupboards and storage
- Windows and doors
- Bathroom suites
- Furniture provided by the landlord
- Gardens and outdoor spaces
- Sheds and other outbuildings
Each room report should be accompanied with clear photographs showing the condition of the space.
At Boxall Brown & Jones, we offer an inventory check before a tenant moves into a property and upon completion of a tenancy, which forms as part of our check-out report. To find out more about our full property management service, please click here.
Top tips for inventory checks
1. Be proactive
Send the inventory to your tenant as soon as they move into your property and request that they make aware of any discrepancies, otherwise you can assume that they agree with the contents.
Make sure that you ask the tenant to sign the inventory and note any discrepancies within 10 working days.
2. The devil is in the detail
In the event of a dispute, the inventory is essential when comparing the condition of the property prior to the tenancy beginning compared to when the tenancy ends.
The adjudicator will not see the property, so the detail is key. Good quality photographs and plenty of them are essential.
3. Ask the tenant to attend
It is recommended that you ask your tenant to be present for the check-out report.
If this is not possible, the check-out must be carried out as soon after their departure as possible.
4. Make sure that you can prove what you claim
Remember that most claims made by landlords fail because of the lack of evidence and lack of detail in the inventory. Make sure that you are clear and precise.
It is important to keep in mind that you should make allowances for fair wear and tear, especially if a long-standing tenant is leaving the property.
5. The burden of proof is on you – or the agent
Deposit schemes take the default view, quite rightly, that the deposit is the tenant’s money, so the burden of proof is always on the landlord or their agent if making a claim.
6. Take photographs
While an inventory must be detailed and descriptive, a check-out report should simply note any changes to condition.
Photographs of any alleged damage will assist the adjudicator in assessing the damage.
7. Provide quotes to support your claim
When assessing the damage to a property, you should provide quotes to support this claim.
You will need to consider the age and condition of the item as you cannot reasonably claim new for old, which is also termed as ‘betterment’.
If a wall is marked, for example, and the property has not been decorated for years, it is unlikely that the claim to redecorate would succeed.
In addition, a hallway carpet will have a shorter life span than a bedroom carpet.
8. Be consistent with terms
Be consistent and use the same terms.
It can be confusing if you refer to ‘Bedroom 1’ in the check in as ‘master bedroom’ in the checkout.
9. Provide a new inventory for each tenancy
You should always provide a new inventory for each new tenancy.
When there is a change of tenant, an inspection should take place with any discrepancies noted against the original tenancy.
Any damages should be agreed with all tenants as liability is joint and several.
10. Inventories work for everyone
An inventory is both the landlord’s and tenant’s friend.
If you can get an agreement at the commencement of the tenancy, then any issues can usually be resolved without the need for dispute resolution.
At Boxall Brown & Jones our priority is to take the stress out of properties. Whether you are looking for an agent to market your property or a full property management service, we can help you every step of the way.
Enquire today on 01332 384438 or email [email protected].