The Importance of Inventories

Trying to argue your case without evidence is never going to be easy – you just have to hope that the judge and jury are on your side.

More often than not, in the case of a dispute between landlord and tenant however, the tenant tends to come out on top. This is why landlords today need to do everything in their power to ensure they have as much evidence and paperwork as possible to prove their case if they ever need to - which is where the inventory comes in to its own as one of the most valuable documents you can have in your landlord arsenal.

What is an inventory?

A simple document, detailing the contents of your property, and the condition of furnishings and contents, it is an unarguable document that could make the difference between a nasty deposit dispute with a tenant, and a simple agreement.

What’s the point of it?

Inventories provide vital evidence if you think you have a case to withhold any of your tenant’s deposit in order to pay for maintenance of the property once they have moved out, due to issues that they have caused.

This can be an arduous task, so making sure you are as prepared as possible is always preferable! Taking the time to carry out an inventory, (or paying for an inventory clerk to do one on your behalf) may seem like a pain, but in the long run it could save you thousands. It also gives you a perfect opportunity to give the property a once over, and work with your tenant to make note of any maintenance tasks that you both feel could be addressed – you never know, they might spot something that you might have missed, an easy fix that will make their time in the property 100 times more enjoyable.

When should I do it?

The best time to carry out an inventory is at the very start of the tenancy, ideally before your tenant has moved any of their furniture into the property, and then checked again once the property is empty after they have moved out. This gives you a clear space to work in, and you can see any stains on carpet, nicks in wallpaper or scuffs on kitchen units. Also, moving hefty furniture around is a notoriously tricky job, and once your tenant has manhandled their wardrobe into place, you might just find that your wall is missing a chunk – you’d want to make sure this is noted at check out, rather than ticked off in the ‘move-in’ inventory

What should it cover?

If you are carrying out an inventory yourself, you must make sure you pay specific attention to the following areas:

Walls

  • Are there any stains or marks on walls or wall coverings? Note what and where these are
  • Are there any signs of damp or mould on the walls? Note what, and where.
  • If you have skirting boards, are they chipped/damaged? Where?

Doors/Windows

  • Are there any stains or damage to any of the doors? What/where?
  • How many sets of keys are available for the property? Remember to note all locking doors/windows
  • Are door/window frames all in good condition?
  • Do all doors/windows open, close and (if necessary) lock properly?
  • Is there any glass damage?

Flooring

  • Is there any staining/rips/damage to carpet?
  • Are wooden/tiled floors scratched?
  • Is there any damage to any other flooring – note what/where

Individual rooms

  • If you are providing any appliances, check that they work, and state the condition
  • Check that all sinks / baths / showers drain properly
  • Flush all toilets and note that they work properly

Utilities

  • Ensure all utilities are working
  • Check that all lights work, bulbs have been provided
  • Check that plugs all function correctly
  • Take meter readings, and provide details of location of utility meters

Furnished properties

  • Note down all items that will be left in the property (even in loft and garden storage)
  • Note any existing damage to provided items


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