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Should landlords create an inventory before a tenancy?

A detailed inventory can protect a landlord from financial loss. Which makes it surprising when a landlord lets a property without taking an inventory. Yet figures suggest this happens with almost a third of all privately rented homes.

Why you need an inventory

If you are in dispute with your tenant over damage to your property you need to be able to prove your claims. An inventory helps you do this. Without one you run the risk of losing any dispute with your tenant. This could result in you having to return a deposit without receiving recompense for damage.

The tenant will also be incentivised knowing the inventory has been taken. They have more reason to keep their home clean and in good condition.

Just as a landlord will demand a deposit from every tenant an inventory should also be an essential part of your property letting procedure.

There are no negatives to carrying out an inventory. Only benefits.

Inventory options

As a landlord, you have two options when it comes to drawing up an inventory. You either ask a professional agent to prepare it or you do it yourself. There are pros and cons to each approach.

The biggest argument against doing your own inventory is time and expense.

It isn't a quick job writing a report and making sure you include everything isn't easy. Against this of course is the fee you will save by not commissioning a professional. But this can often prove to be a false economy. If your DIY inventory isn't detailed enough or misses out vital information you will leave yourself open to losing any dispute with your tenant.

Conversely the only drawback to employing a professional agent is the fee you pay. However fees are affordable and tax deductible. And the fee will be easily recouped in the event of a dispute.

What should be included in an inventory?

Whoever compiles the report it must be comprehensive. It should cover:

Furniture

If you let a property which is furnished you need to check:

  • All furniture for chips and stains
  • The bed for broken springs and legs
  • Sofas and chairs for rips, tears, and stains
  • Make sure the drawers and doors on all wardrobes open and close properly

In every property, furnished or not, a thorough inspection should be carried out. Areas to look out for include:

Internal doors and walls

  • Check doors open and close correctly, ensure hinges are tight and door frames in good condition
  • Check all painted areas including skirting boards are free of stains and marks
  • Check everywhere for damp

External doors

  • Make sure all locks are fitted and working
  • Two sets of keys should be provided

Flooring

  • Check carpets carefully for stains and rips
  • Lino or vinyl should be checked for tears
  • Tiles mustn’t be cracked and grouting shouldn’t be stained

Windows

  • All windows should open and close easily
  • Check for cracks in the glass
  • Ensure seals are intact and frames in good condition
  • Check for condensation
  • Check locks (if fitted) and provide keys

Utilities

  • Make sure the boiler is working properly and has been recently serviced
  • Radiators should be working correctly
  • Is all wiring safe?
  • Ensure there are working bulbs in every light fitting
  • Are all electrical sockets working?
  • Test smoke alarms

Kitchen

  • Are the oven and all white goods in good condition?
  • Are all appliances clean and free from mould?
  • Cupboards should be checked to ensure doors and drawers open and close smoothly
  • Check worktops and surfaces for chips and scratches

Bathroom

  • Sinks, baths, and shower trays should be checked for cracks
  • Ensure sinks, baths, and shower trays drain correctly and plugs are provided where appropriate
  • Make sure taps are not dripping
  • Check there are no stains in the toilet bowls
  • Check the toilet flush is working as it should

Exterior checks

Don’t forget the outside of the property. Check:

  • Fences and gates for damage
  • Locks on gates should be tested and the tenant provided with two keys
  • Sheds and garages should be free of clutter and rubbish
  • Flower beds and lawns should be neat and tidy

Presenting the inventory

Everything must be noted in detail. Don’t rely on a checklist. Just ticking a box to say the windows have been checked doesn’t provide any detailed information which will be needed in the event of a dispute. Which is why we always recommend you have a professional carry out an inventory whenever you let a property.

Photographs

These are absolutely essential. All written observations should be backed up by clear, date-stamped photographs.

Good quality photos will support the written evidence and provide irrefutable proof in the event of a dispute with the tenant. But don’t be tempted to just rely on photos. They work hand in glove with the written report.

When the inventory has been completed present it to the tenant so they can check it for accuracy. When they agree it is a true reflection of the property have them sign and date the inventory.

Remember an inventory will help reduce any risk of you losing out financially in any dispute with your tenant.

MakeUrMove inventory service

When you let a property our qualified and independent Inventory Clerk will draw up a fully detailed inventory for you. MakeUrMove also provide a full property management service for private landlords.

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