A Landlord’s Guide to Inventories
Before a tenant can move in and start their tenancy, it is imperative you carry out an inventory check. Not only will it create a record of the condition of the fixtures, fittings and furniture, but it will give your tenant some reassurances too. If you’re not sure where to start with putting together an inventory, we cover the basics below.
What is an inventory?
A landlord’s inventory will record all of the contents inside the property and their condition before the tenant moves in. When the tenancy comes to an end, you can refer to the inventory to see how well the property has been looked after by the occupant.
It is typically put together using a simple form with a minimum of four columns required: one listing the items included in the inventory, a further two recording the condition on arrival and on departure, and a final column confirming that each item has been checked.
If any damage is caused during the tenancy, it can be noted and addressed with the tenant before they leave. It means the landlord can potentially recover repair costs from the deposit before it is returned to the tenant.
When should you carry out an inventory?
Arrange for the inventory to be carried out before the tenant moves in, ideally on the start date of the tenancy with occupant present. You should also:
- Seek advice from your agent or independent Inventory Clerk if they are being used.
- Document the good and bad elements of the property for clarity – using a rating scale from ‘excellent’ to ‘poor’.
- Take photos of the contents and their condition as evidence for both parties.
- Ensure the tenancy is signed off by both parties with a copy also given to the tenant.
Managing the inventory during the tenancy
Before the final inventory is checked it makes sense to organise inspections on a quarterly, or half-yearly basis, so you keep up to date with any changes within the property.
Be sure to give the tenant 24 hours’ notice in writing before you carry out the inspection, as this is a legal requirement and should be in the tenancy agreement. You can then address any issues that come to light during the inspection.
The final inventory should be carried out on the day the tenant is preparing to leave, once they have removed all of their possessions. The tenant should also be present so they feel it is conducted fairly and transparently.
How to deal with wear and tear
The legal definition of fair wear and tear is “reasonable use of the premises by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces.”
This includes things such as carpets being naturally worn down by people walking on them, or any items that have deteriorated as a result of exposure to natural forces such as rain or sunlight.
Tenants are not responsible for fair wear and tear during the course of a tenancy, which means it cannot be included in the inventory.
What do I do with damaged items?
Where both parties agree with the list of damaged items you should put together an estimated cost for repairs before informing the tenant in writing. The costs can then deducted from the deposit.
If the costs exceed the funds held in the tenancy deposit scheme you will have to send an additional invoice to the tenant detailing the costs.
Any items that need to be replaced should be upgraded where needed. When considering how much to pay for each item, take into account the condition and age of the item being replaced.
What happens if the tenant disputes the costs?
Sometimes both parties will not agree on the level of damages that need to be paid. In this situation be sure to take new photographs so they can be compared against those taken at the start of the tenancy. Always be sure to record all communication with the tenant in writing. If you are using a letting agent, they will be able to give you further advice and guidance on the matter, helping you and your tenant to reach an agreement.
Disputes can be raised with the free and independent Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service provided by the tenancy deposit scheme being used. The aim is to avoid court and to reach an agreement that satisfies both parties. If both the tenant and landlord agree to use the service, they also have to accept its final decision and cannot transfer matters into the courts.
If you are a landlord and have any further questions on inventories, please get in touch with our expert letting agent team on 020 8459 2530 who will be happy to provide you with more information.
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