The inventory process is vitally important for tenants. In a worst-case scenario, you stand to lose your deposit based on its contents; fortunately, this document can minimise the likelihood of disputes.
What is an inventory?
An inventory creates a picture of the property before, during and after the tenancy. It is a detailed report that lists the property’s contents and fully notes its condition.
An inventory is prepared at the start and end of a tenancy, with tenants and landlords both signing in agreement. Tenants cannot be asked to pay for any damage they are not responsible for and must have the opportunity to disagree with the inventory.
The inventory may be prepared by a third-party inventory clerk, letting agent or landlord.
It must include dated photographs so that a reasonable comparison can be made between how a property looks ‘before’ and ‘after’. Without photos or the tenant’s signature, the adjudicator handling any dispute is likely to turn down a landlord’s claim.
The check-in inventory should be detailed to ensure no discrepancies occur subsequently; in addition, landlords need to clarify which items are new and which are not. Attending the check-in inspection is recommended, as it will be simpler for you and the landlord to concur. You can sign the inventory on the spot if you agree with it.
Property inventory software is available from providers such as inventorybase.com; in addition, a pdf is available that gives lots of information about the tenancy deposit scheme.
Landlords may inspect their properties from time to time; however, they must give their tenants advance warning. They will ensure that the property is being adequately maintained. Mid-tenancy inspections uncover any issues, minimising the likelihood of disagreements later. Tenants should be told of any follow-up necessary after the inspection. Keeping a copy of all correspondence with your landlord – whether letters, texts, emails or other communications – is a sensible step.
At the end of a tenancy, the check-out inspection happens. The ‘before’ and ‘after’ condition of the property is compared and any disagreements are dealt with.
Again, it is not obligatory for tenants to be present, but it is strongly recommended. It makes it simpler for both parties to agree on the results. At this time, video recordings or date-stamped photographs can be useful, enabling a detailed comparison.