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Making the Inventory Watertight

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 15 Mar 2010 | comments*Discuss
Inventory Property Inventory Inventory

You want to make sure that your property is kept in a good condition, and that any fixtures, fittings and carpets are also looked after. Most tenants will do their utmost to keep the properties that they rent in good condition – after all, they are the people having to live there and nobody wants to lose their deposit.

It always pays to be prepared though, and one way you can make sure that the property is given back to you in as good a condition as you rented it in is to compile a detailed inventory of the property and everything in it before the new tenant sets foot in the front door.

What is an Inventory?

An inventory, for rental purposes, should basically be a very detailed description of the property that you’re renting out, as well as all the fixtures, fittings, appliances and any additional furniture – and a description of the condition of the property and anything in it. If done properly, it can be invaluable as a legal document protecting both parties from any misunderstandings when the tenancy ends. The tenant and landlord both have to sign the inventory to agree that the property is exactly as it’s been described on the day that they move in.

Under the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, if you want to claim any money back from the tenant for damage to the property after they have ended the tenancy, you have to prove that the damage was caused by them during the period of their tenancy, so a property inventory is even more vital.

What if The Property is Unfurnished – Will I still need to do an Inventory?

Even an unfurnished property needs to have an accurate inventory. It’s not just for the furniture or appliances, an inventory is also invaluable if you need to repair damage to walls, replace curtains or carpets, or even have the garden re-done through the tenant not paying it any attention.

Who Should Carry Out the Inventory?

It’s tempting to do your own inventory, but unfortunately if there’s a dispute, a self-prepared inventory is not likely to stand up in court. There are professional Inventory clerks who will go through the property for you and make sure that everything is accounted for. With a professional Inventory clerk, you could find that even a one bedroom flat inventory can run to several pages – they are trained to look for everything!

You can also get property inventory kits online, where you download forms and in some cases software to help you prepare your own inventory. If you go down this route, you should still get the inventory signed off by an independent third party to make sure that it provides you with the evidence you need if there’s a dispute. If you buy inventory kits and services online, make sure that they contain:

  • Detailed instructions on what needs to be included
  • Advice about how to correctly carry out the inventory checks before and after a tenant moves.
  • How to calculate any costs for damages caused by the tenant
  • A template document.

Tenant Horror Stories – What You Might Find...

According to the Deposit Protection Service (DPS), the most popular things to leave behind when tenants move out of a rented property are “marital aids” – the mind boggles! Over 1000 landlords were recently asked about the state that their properties were left in when tenants moved on, and they indicated that landlords were frequently expected to get rid of left-behind items like underwear, bondage equipment and even on some occasions, blow-up dolls.

Pets and animals past and even still alive have often been left behind with one landlord even claiming to have been left to deal with a live snake under the floorboards. If something equally hideous happens to you – or even if you just find something you didn’t leave and you find yourself having to make a visit to the local rubbish tip before you can let the house again, you can also charge the tenant and retain money from their deposit – but you’ll need an inventory to prove that you didn’t leave it there, just as you would if they take something with them that’s yours.

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