Inventories for private rented properties are imperative. They protect both the landlord and the tenant and this is one of the main activities that shouldn’t be overlooked by do-it-yourself landlords.
Essentially an inventory is a listing of all the contents of a property and a record of the condition of each item as well as the condition of the property itself. The form is designed to help monitor the condition of a property and any furniture, fixtures and fittings and white goods before a tenant moves in and just before a tenant leaves, so it can be made clear what damages, if any, need to be rectified or paid for.
How is an Inventory Prepared
The landlord, a letting agent or an independent inventory clerk should prepare the Inventory which should be agreed with and signed by the tenant on move-in day. The Landlord or Agent and tenants should sign the Inventory and initial every page to signify agreement.
Photographic or video evidence of the property contents and condition is optional but often a wise safety net. How thorough you want to be can often depend on how valuable the items in the property are. Obviously the more valuable items like a cooker and washing machine should be captured with imagery, so there is no question of their condition.
What is an Inventory Clerk?
An inventory clerk is someone who is specialised at putting inventories together and many landlords or letting agents opt to use these services as they know they will be covered by a thorough and effective process. The clerk will visit a property to check and record its condition and that of any fixtures and fittings. Some will attend the property to meet the tenant on the commencement date of the tenancy in order to hand over keys, take utilities readings and agree the inventory. At the termination of the tenancy they can also attend the property with the original inventory and prepare a comparison. This includes checking keys returned and taking utilities readings. This will ensure fair handling of the deposit at the end of the tenancy for both landlord and tenants.
Hiring an independent inventory clerk to conduct and document the inventory can save a landlord time, problems and even money. As professionals, they will ensure everything is accounted for properly in the inventory at the beginning and end of the tenancy.
If there is a disagreement at the end of a tenancy between landlord and tenant, which needs the assistance of a tenancy deposit protection schemes dispute resolution service, the independent inventory clerk’s report will be a vital piece of evidence to help resolve the situation fairly and quickly.
How Often Should an Inventory be Checked?
It is advisable for landlords or their agents to conduct regular inspections when managing a tenancy. Quarterly inspections to check the condition of the property and to compare the inventory against the current state is best practice. It is important to give a tenant adequate notice before a proposed inspection date.
Hannah McCartan, Managing Director of Swansea-based McCartan Lettings explains why having an inventory is so important for landlords and tenants alike:
Final Inventory Check
Ideally, on the day the tenants move out, the landlord or agent should carry out an inventory check. The signed form should be checked and agreed with the tenant before the deposit is returned.
It’s important for both parties that the inventory check is completed soon after the tenant has left the property to avoid disputes over damages which could have occurred after the tenant has gone.
The deposit should only be handed back within 7 to 14 days if there are no outstanding issues once the inspection has been
What if the Property or Goods are Damaged?
If both the Landlord or Agent and the tenant agrees that damage or disrepair needs to be addressed then estimates should be prepared for replacements or repair works. The tenant must be informed of these costs in writing including the amount to be deducted from the original deposit.
The tenancy deposit scheme should also be made aware of what has been agreed with the tenant so they can reimburse the correct amount to the tenant.
If the damage or repairs are so bad that they are not covered by the deposit amount, then the landlord or agent should send an invoice to the tenant itemising all of the costs for which they are liable.
If both parties cannot reach agreement as to which items have been damaged, the severity of the damage, the repair or replacement costs then it is in the interest of the landlord and the tenant to record the state and condition with photographs; to get estimates for repair or replacement costs; and the landlord should then inform the tenant in writing.
Resolving Inventory Disputes
All disputes will be handled by an independent and free Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service provided by the scheme the deposit is secured with. The aim is to resolve any disputes quickly to court action.
If both landlord and tenant agree to use the ADR service, they will have to agree to accept its decision and will not be able to apply to the courts. If the tenant or the landlord do not agree to use the Tenancy Deposit Scheme service then the dispute will usually go to the county court.
Inventories for Unfurnished Properties
It is equally important to prepare an inventory for an unfurnished property as for a furnished one as there will still be items that can be damaged and costly to replace such as sanitary ware, carpets, doors and the general condition of the property, both inside and out.
For further guidance and advice on preparing an inventory or to discuss how a letting agency can help landlords with this service, call McCartan Lettings today on 01792 430100.