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Why you need to pay attention to inventories

Thu 20 Sep 2018

A key part of the rental process is carrying out an inventory at the start and end of a tenancy, which will hopefully help to prevent any disputes or disagreements between you and your tenants as the condition of your property (and its contents) will be laid out in black and white.

The inventory should be prepared, agreed upon and signed by you and your tenants during the check-in process, while a final inventory should be completed when your tenants move out, to see if anything has been damaged or needs repairing/replacing.

As a landlord, it helps you to monitor the condition of your property (and the items in it) throughout a tenancy, which will in turn help to determine whether a tenant is liable for any damage caused. If they are, this will then be deducted from their initial deposit when they check out.

A highly useful list

An inventory is essentially a thorough list of all the items and contents of a home (and what condition they are in). It also acts as a record of the general condition of the property, including walls, doors, floors and ceilings.

The form is compiled before a tenant moves in and then analysed when the tenant moves out, to see if everything is in the same condition as the start of a tenancy.  

If you have everything clearly written down and itemised – with pictures or even video footage to accompany it – there will be fewer question marks or complaints when it comes to deciding whether damage has been caused by the tenant or whether it was already there before they moved in.

It should, in theory, lessen the chances of disputes occurring, which will save you and your letting agent plenty of time and hassle when a tenant chooses to move on.

Created in an impartial way

When it comes to compiling a detailed, comprehensive inventory, this is something you can do yourself. But it is time-consuming and needs to be carried out to a very professional standard to ensure it’s credible. What’s more, if you put it together yourself, you could be leaving yourself open to accusations of bias from your tenants when check-out time arrives.

An alternative is to get your letting agent to carry out the inventory for you. Or hire an independent inventory clerk, who will visit your rental home, conduct an inspection and compile documents to a professional standard on your behalf. They also offer the benefit of being unbiased and highly specialised. However, if you decide to go for an independent clerk, make sure they have been vetted by the AIIC before you use their services.   

Here at Letting Solutions we can prepare inventories on your behalf and, as part of our ongoing management of the tenancy, we carry out management inspections every three months (with a written report) to enable us to see whether any damage has been caused. Here, we can use the original inventory to make sure that tenants are treating your home well, offering you reassurance at the same time.

Here’s what a good inventory should look like

·         A good inventory will include a schedule of condition (essentially a full written report covering the condition of your rental home).

·         It will cover your home’s interior and exterior in thorough detail, including: white goods, fixtures and fittings, appliances, contents and décor.

·         A full list of keys, alarm codes, equipment serial numbers and meter readings will also be recorded.

·         Photographic and video evidence is advisable, if not compulsory. It’s particularly important in regards to items such as expensive furniture or white goods. Photo and video evidence will help you to prove the original condition of an item or part of your home if your tenant challenges your version of events at check-out.

End of the tenancy

Once check-out arrives, this is the time when the condition of the property (and the items in it) should be checked against the original inventory. Before you return your tenant’s deposit, the end of tenancy inventory should be agreed upon.

If there has been any damage caused, you’ll need to calculate how much this will cost to repair/replace and then deduct this from the initial deposit. This is assuming both parties are in agreement about what damage has been caused (and who was responsible). If a tenant refuses to accept that they have caused any damage, or accuses you of making things up, your letting agent can step in to mediate and you may need to turn to a deposit resolution service to solve the issue.

As part of our management service, we carry out an exit inspection and report, organise repairs (if required), negotiate on return of deposit and bill settlement and offer support with any legal hearings and attendance in court if needed (this is usually very much a last resort). This ensures that your home will be ready for new tenants as soon as possible and reduces the risk of any long void periods being experienced.

For more information on how Letting Solutions, West Lothian’s first dedicated lettings agency, can help you get the most from your rental properties, please call us on 01506 496 006. We also provide a free and instant online valuation to give you an idea of how much you could be charging in rent each month.