A-Z of lettings I is for Inventory.
A Guide to Rental Inventories
Why have an Inventory?
We are often asked by new Landlords if an inventory is really necessary, or that they will do it themselves as the property is unfinished, in an attempt to save money. Our advice is always the same. A professional inventory is absolutely necessary for a number of reasons.
- It provides an accurate record of the items and condition of the property at the check in or start of a tenancy.
- The inventory is the most important document for any dispute regarding repairs at the check-out at the end of tenancy
- It provides a record for the tenants as to what is required when the property is returned.
The Security Deposit
Security Deposits are taken by most Landlords and agents as a security measure against the cost or repairs / damage to the property at the end of a tenancy. All deposits must be legally held or registered by a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme.
The Government recognised schemes act like moderators / jury if there is a dispute at the end of the tenancy. Disputes can arise for many reasons but commonly it will be when a Landlord wants to keep part of the deposit to cover the cost of a repair he rightly or wrongly believes was caused by the tenant. If the tenant disputes this it is up to the Landlord to prove his case. This is where a detailed inventory is necessary.
Once Landlords have grasped this idea they generally see the value in having an inventory professionally prepared, rather than a list on a sheet of paper of what’s in the property provided by the Landlord.
Types of Inventory
The primary purpose of an Inventory is to protect both the Landlord and tenant from unfair claims, by either party, at the end of a tenancy. Dispute claims are generally brought by Landlords against the tenant for damage or excess “fair wear and tear”
Over recent years with the advance of app and digital technology more Letting Agents and Landlords are providing digital video inventories or a combination of video / photos and hard copy to record the property condition. This has been a great benefit to all parties as compiling a properly detailed inventory is a time consuming process.
What the Inventory Should Include
The inventory should be compiled and put together prior to the tenant moving in. At Lets Go Professional we have a set procedure for compiling an inventory that ensures we are consistent across our portfolio of managed properties. Our check procedure is as follows:
- Check all doors and windows are working properly (including handles/ locks)
- Check all lights are working properly / bulbs fitted
- All taps are working (no leaks / drips)
- Check all plug sockets are working.
- Make sure any appliances are working
- Make sure all safety certificates are valid and copies available for tenant
- Note any obvious wear & tear to carpets / fitted furniture.
Once we have made these checks we will then compile a digital inventory that includes both video and photos detailing the items in the property along with the condition using a grading system from excellent to poor.
Check In With Tenants
At the Check In we will examine the property with the tenant and note any comments or concerns the tenants may have. We would also advise that photos are also taken as proof, preferably with the date showing on the photo. Once meter readings have been taken we will allow the tenants seven days in which to make any further comments on the Inventory to the condition of the property. If the tenants fail to notify us of any concerns they have within seven days the Inventory is deemed as accurate at Check In as far as the tenants are concerned. It is surprising how many tenants never get back to their agent or Landlord within this time.
The beauty of the digital inventory is that the tenants can access this by phone and make any amendments / comments. Copies of the inventory can also, be sent to the Landlords by an Agent.
All future periodic inspections can be logged against the original digital inventory thus providing a condition audit trail. Stains and scuffs that occur during the tenancy may be recorded with photos or video. Some tenants will clean carpets and paint scuffs in order to get their full deposit back.
Final Check Out
Final check out inspection should be carried out against the original inventory with the tenants present once all tenant belongings have been removed and the property and the keys are ready to be handed back. We advise that the following are always check for condition.
- Light bulbs are fitted and working
- Appliances working
- Reverse side of doors not damaged
- Curtain poles are not loose
- Cupboard doors are not damaged.
Any obvious damage or anything that might need financial attention should be pointed out to the tenants and photos / video taken.
If you have followed the above steps and check out has been carried out with the tenants present the disputes can be avoided. However, should a dispute arise then having a comprehensive detailed inventory will be worth the cost!!