An inventory is typically completed at the start of a tenancy and at the end of a tenancy and involves creating an itemised list of the rental property's contents and state of the property alongside a description of each of these items. Often, this description, typically to the quality of the assets, is ‘backed-up’ by photographs which can be used as a comparison point at the end of a tenancy.
What is the purpose of an inventory?
The purpose of an inventory is simple. Where it can be shown (hence the photos) that there are missing items or that damage to the property or its assets was not there at the start of the tenancy (beyond general fair wear and tear), the tenant is liable to cover the costs for repairs. Likewise, where it can be shown that a certain defect was pre-existing, the landlord cannot claim from the tenant. Inventories are not compulsory.
When should an inventory be completed?
Property inventories should be completed at the beginning of the tenancy before new tenants check in and crucially before the tenant moves any of their possessions into the property- the movement of furniture is a typical scenario that might give rise to damage. Inventories can be completed by an independent inventory clerk, by a letting agent who provides inventory services, the landlord themselves or even by the tenant. They can be completed in the absence of the tenant but it is recommended that the tenant is present and/or signs the detailed inventory after it has been completed to assent to its descriptions. It is also recommended that the inventory: states both parties' contact details, is dated and can be signed.
Inventories should also be completed after the tenant, and their belongings, have moved. This ‘final inspection’ should ideally be completed as close to the move as possible. This check-out report can then be contrasted to the earlier one to determine any potential liability which can lead to tenancy deposit deductions. Tenancy deposit schemes have a dispute resolution service which can mediate deposit disputes at the end of the tenancy. The service will look at the evidence supplied by both the landlord and the tenant to determine the right amount the landlord can deduct from the tenant's deposit.
What should an inventory include?
It is in both the tenant and landlord’s interests to check the inventory report is correct. It is recommended that such parties check each room of the property photographing and taking note of anything they think needs to be added or disputed. When inspecting the property, it is important to take account of (and photograph where relevant) as much as the property as is possible. For example, you should check:
- The condition of the walls, ceilings and floors (check for nails, discolouration, peeling paint, cracks etc);
- The condition of the properties fittings including windows, gas and electrical fittings and sanitation fittings (check for limescale, mould, rust, broken sealant etc);
- The condition of the furniture in the property (check for scratches, marks or discolouration);
- The condition of locks in the property including doors, windows and door handles;
- The external features of the building such as gutters, roof tiles and the external walls, and;
- The quality of the water supply, such as pressure and temperature.
It is also recommended that meter readings are taken when the check out inventory is performed.
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Why should you use an inventory?
Using an inventory is a simple and effective way to ensure both parties are protected. Inventories are recommended for all tenancy agreements, especially for the landlord as it might be difficult to prove that damage was not pre-existing.
Legislate is a contracting platform where landlords and letting agencies can create legally valid agreements. Users on Legislate are encouraged to upload a copy of their schedule of condition to their tenancy agreement. This way, parties can readily access the inventory information and quickly resolve any issues as they arise.
You can read about creating tenancy agreements on Legislate and if you would like more information on property management download our whitepaper. Book a demo of Legislate, sign up or receive an invite from an existing member.
The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.