What is an inventory?
An inventory, otherwise known as a ‘schedule of condition’, is exactly what it says on the tin – it is a report of the condition of the property at the start of a tenancy. It also includes details of all exterior areas, fixtures, fittings and furnishings. A good inventory will include a written description, along with clear photos or a video showing everything mentioned in the report.
What’s the point of an inventory?
For a landlord the inventory is one of the most important pieces of documentation to ensure you protect your property and avoid deposit disputes. An Inventory’s primary function is to act as evidence to the state of a property at the start of a tenancy. Legally all security deposits must be registered with a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme, meaning if you want to withhold any of the deposit, you must provide evidence to justify why you are deducting money from the deposit – No inventory = no evidence = no deposit deductions = a sad landlord.
Who does the inventory?
You as the landlord, or your letting agent, are responsible for organising this. Some landlords choose to do the inventory themselves, however we would always advise using a reputable inventory company, unless you are sure you can provide enough detail. Through experience we have also found video inventories provide the most evidence as they can show different aspects of a room that you can’t quite get from a photo.
What makes a good inventory?
A good inventory will be unbiased and simply shows/describes the property as it is. The report should list, and embed photos of all the property’s contents, décor, fixtures, fittings, furnishings, for both the interior and any exterior areas, along with utility meter readings. Most professional inventories will go through each room and list all features in the same order, making it easier (if not more tedious!), to go through.
Ideally the inventory will be prepared ready for the tenants to check-in to the property. It is best practise to go through the inventory’s contents with the new tenants at the point of check-in and note any amendments while you are both present, however we know that this is not always realistic. If unable to go through the inventory together, tenants should be given adequate time to be able to go fully through the inventory and add any notes, along with photos for you both to agree upon and add to the original document.
End of Tenancy
Once the tenancy comes to an end, a check-out inspection will need to be done to compare the state of the property to the initial inventory – focus on areas such as cleanliness, damage, missing items, and anything left by tenants. A check-out report will then need to be generated listing any changes to the property with photographic evidence, and justification for any deposit deductions you are proposing. If you and your tenants cannot agree on the proposed deductions it will then go to your tenancy deposit scheme’s adjudication process. The adjudicators will base their decision on evidence provided by all parties, including the tenancy agreement, inventory, check-out report, and any applicable receipts/invoices. An adjudicators decision is final and binding on all parties, so it is important to provide satisfactory evidence, as if nothing is provided then all the money will go back to the tenant as it belongs to them.
3 Top Tips
- Use an independent inventory firm to compose the inventory as it shows the report isn’t biased to a particular party, and the deposit protection schemes prefer this.
- Always include photos or videos (or ideally both) along with a written description in an inventory.
- Conduct regular, and recorded property inspections to ensure your tenants can be informed of the best practises to return the property in the best condition and avoid disputes.