Should I pay for a property inventory?
If you are a buy to let landlord you will know the value of an inventory. When a new tenant moves into your property an inventory will not only protect your interests but will also provide the tenant with peace of mind. After all, an inventory protects both landlord and tenant.
Why you need an inventory
Most landlords will be familiar with the reasons to draw up an inventory when letting a property. But let's quickly recap the benefits:
- Can prevent spurious tenant disputes.
- Saves the landlord time and effort preparing a report.
- In the event of a dispute, it provides irrefutable evidence.
- In disputes, the inventory provides an accurate value of fixtures and fittings.
- An inventory is essentially an insurance policy.
- It will help you schedule maintenance and repairs.
- An inventory puts the landlord in control of any disputes.
- An accurate and comprehensive inventory can literally save you thousands of pounds.
The million dollar question
Well, not quite. But a question every landlord must ask themselves, assuming they accept the value of an inventory, is should I pay a professional or will I do the report myself?
It is very tempting to take the DIY approach. And many landlords do so. They argue an inventory is essentially a list of fittings with some photographs of the decor. But to resolve disputes an inventory must be an altogether more robust document. It needs to be. And it usually takes an experienced professional to draft such a report.
Why you need a professional
The downside to a professional inventory is of course cost. And for many landlords, the fact that a fee is involved is enough for them to take up a biro and grab a camera. Which is understandable but a DIY inventory can be a false economy.
The biggest argument in favour of a professionally compiled inventory is that, in the long run, it can save you a great deal of money. Should a dispute arise with your tenant it is important the inventory covers all the bases. This will reduce the risk of you losing a dispute. Potentially saving you thousands of pounds. It makes the small fee a professional will charge a very worthwhile investment.
Of course, a dispute may never arise. But you will still have benefitted from the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have an important weapon should your tenant have caused problems.
A professional will know exactly what to include in the report. It will cover everything and will include text, photos and any relevant receipts (carpet cleaning for example). All will be included in the final inventory.
Another huge benefit of having someone else do the report is all the time and effort you will save. Putting an inventory together isn't easy and it can take quite some time. Time you may not have or, let's face it, want to find.
If you want to go the DIY route
If you are determined to compile your own property inventory do allow yourself plenty of time to prepare the report. Cover every room in the property and take plenty of photos from different angles. You can never have too many.
Make a note of how clean the property is and take photos of the walls and decor. List and note the condition of all fixtures and fittings. Take plenty of photos of white goods and bathroom areas making detailed notes on their condition and cleanliness.
Don't forget external areas including fencing and gates.
The all-important final word
Whoever draws up the inventory ensure the finished document is dated and signed by the tenant and acknowledged to be an accurate portrayal of the property. Should there be a dispute the document will be worthless with the tenant's signature.