What’s one of the most important things I have learned working as a letting agent over the past few decades? The importance of a meticulously prepared inventory at the onset of a new tenancy. No matter whether you are a landlord or a tenant, a comprehensive inventory and schedule of condition is a must to protect your best interests.
As a landlord a property you own is not simply bricks and mortar; it’s a valuable asset. An inventory serves as your first line of defense against potential disputes or damages. It provides an accurate snapshot of the properties condition at the start of the tenancy, ensuring you can hold tenants accountable for upkeep, damage or neglect.
The inventory and schedule of condition is the initial ‘jumping off’ point at the heart of any proposed deduction from the deposit and any subsequent dispute over these.
It provides a full an accurate record agreed by both parties about the cleanliness and condition of the property at the onset of the let and lays the groundwork of the condition you expect to have the property returned in, allowing for fair wear and tear. It is to be noted that ‘fair wear and tear’ is considered something to be expected within the normal day to day use by a householder, it does not include cleaning. In terms of cleanliness the property should be returned in a like for like condition at the end of the tenancy, which is why it is also important to document this.
By providing tenants with documentary evidence of the condition they received the house in you are inspiring them to take good care of the property in order to protect their deposit and to offer it up at the end of the tenancy in good order akin to the condition outlined in the original inventory and schedule of condition. Equally, by providing a transparent record of the property’s condition you are showing your commitment to your respect for their rights as tenants and your commitment to providing a fair and professional renting experience.
Tenants, an inventory and schedule of condition is not just a formality; it’s a shield that safeguards your hard-earned money. By meticulously reviewing and signing off the inventory at the beginning of the tenancy, you ensure that you won’t be held responsible for anything pre-existing when you eventually come to move out.
An inventory is also a valuable communication tool between you and your landlord. It allows you to highlight any existing issues or concerns in relation to the property, ensuring that both parties are on the same page from the get-go.
Now that we understand why inventories are so essential, lets dive into what should be included in one;
Property Description: Begin with a comprehensive description of the property, including the address, type (flat, house, etc.) and any unique features or furnishings. Include details of the current standard of overall cleanliness.
Photographs and/or Videos: Visual evidence is crucial. Include good quality photos and/or videos of each room including all significant features, such as appliances, fixtures and furniture. Remember that visual evidence should be date and time stamped.
Safety/Compliance: Note the location of carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms and their working condition.
Utilities/Services: Note the location of meters and their present readings and the location of the mains water shutoff and electric fuse board.
Condition of Walls, Ceilings, Skirtings and Floors: State the composition and decorative finish of these items (not forgetting any tiled areas in kitchens and bathrooms) and document the overall condition including any existing marks, scuffs or damage to these surfaces or the grouting or sealant. Note any cracks, holes, stains and existing picture fixings where relevant. Don’t forget to document the standard of cleanliness of each item.
Windows and Doors, including Fixings, Frames and Sills: Describe the materials used in construction/decoration and their current condition. Check for broken or malfunctioning locks, handles and hinges. Ensure all windows open and close correctly and document this all alongside the standard of cleanliness (inside and out). Don’t forget curtains and blinds.
Switches, Sockets, Light fittings, etc.: Include all fixtures and fittings and their cleanliness and condition to evidence these have been duly inspected to be free of damage/defect.
Kitchen Fixtures, Fittings and Appliances: Include cabinets (fitted and freestanding) not forgetting any decorative finishing and finishing panels, worktops, sink, taps, appliances to include Make/Model and their overall cleanliness/condition including any internal fittings, seals, etc.
Bathroom Fixtures: Document the construction materials and condition of sinks, toilet, showers, bath, cabinets, toilet roll and towel holders, etc. in terms of cleanliness, structural and overall condition. Remember to include any limescale of absence of the same.
Furniture/Furnishings: List, with a description of construction, all furniture and furnishing items and their present condition, including any defects or pre-existing marks/damage.
Gardens/Outdoor Space: Describe the composition and condition of the outdoor space, including any garden furniture and any landscaping/features.
The Inventory should be issued to the tenants upon or just after they take possession of the keys for the property, having been complied as close to this date as possible. The tenants should be given 7 days to review the inventory and advise of any discrepancies or additional observations and note these on the inventory with relevant dated/timed photographs. The tenants should then sign the document to confirm they are happy with the inventory as a true reflection of the property as it stands at the onset of their tenancy and both parties should retain a copy of the signed inventory.
It is important that you keep a detailed log of the issue of the inventory to the tenants and their receipt of this and any correspondence chasing its return. If, after 7 days, the tenants have not responded with this evidence you are able to class the original issued inventory as accepted by the tenants without amendment.
In conclusion, a comprehensive inventory and schedule of condition is not just ‘paperwork’; it is a powerful tool for ensuring transparency, protecting the interests of both parties and one of the building blocks of fostering a positive renting experience. By diligently compiling, issuing and completing an inventory alongside your tenant you establish a strong foundation for a harmonious and successful tenancy, built upon trust and honesty of both parties. Remember, in the realm of renting, a well-prepared inventory is your ultimate insurance policy.