How to create an inventory that works for you and your tenants.
At first glance, an inventory may seem like a frustrating detail – which probably explains why so many of them are rushed and treated with disdain. But time and again, we have seen occasions where inventories (that is, a list of a property’s fixtures, fittings and equipment, and their condition) have been the difference in proving a landlord’s case, in settling a claim, and in providing evidence in support of one party or the other. So here is Locate’s guide to what a good inventory should look like:
Whatever you have provided as part of the tenancy, from dishwashers to can openers, ensure it all has a place on the inventory.
Tour the property
A good inventory is about more than the things you put in a property – it’s about the state of the property itself. So tour the property with the tenant to review the condition of each room. Where there are scuffs, scrapes, dents, chips or stains, note them down.
Words and pictures
Using words or pictures alone can make it difficult to understand the precise extent of damage, so a good inventory should include photographs of any damage, together with a written description that gives the images context.
It’s all too easy to snap your way around a property only to find that, when you come to download the images, they are obscured by glare, blur or other problems. As you may find yourself relying on the images to support a future claim, take time to ensure the images you take are clear.
Don’t rely on images to convey the scale of stains, scratches and dents. Add the dimensions to the inventory.
There have been many attempts to provide accurate dating evidence for inventories, from relying on digital camera date stamps (which can’t be relied on at all) to placing today’s newspaper in shot. But by far the simplest measure is to have both parties sign and date the agreed inventory.
The average tenancy in the UK is now 2.7 years*. With such a timescale, it’s important that landlords have a clear picture of the state of their properties that is based on more than an inspection at the start and end of the let.
Carry out regular inspections (we recommend quarterly intervals) at a time that’s mutually convenient for you and your tenant and arranged in advance. Regular inspection can raise issues before they become problems, and give you or the tenant time to resolve them.
End of tenancy
Before a tenant leaves, review the inventory with them. Make sure they’re present, and don’t attempt to carry out the review before they’ve had a chance to clear their belongings out – that way it’s much easier to spot issues.