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What is an inventory and why do I need one?

The Inventory is a complete and comprehensive record of every room and area in the rental property whether furnished or unfurnished, including all fixtures, fittings, decor and contents of the property and outdoor space with a detailed description of the condition of each.

The inclusion of photographic or video evidence is optional, however it can be extremely useful not only to provide an overview of each area and detail any specific item of interest or value.

In case of dispute and the parties cannot reach agreement as to which items have been damaged, the severity of the damage or the repair or replacement costs then photographic or video evidence can be used to highlight damage.

Inventories should be taken just prior to the tenant moving in and the condition of each item entered on the inventory should be agreed with the new tenant. This should be done on moving in day and signed and initialled on each page to signify agreement by each party. A copy of the inventory is held by both the landlord and the tenant in order to avoid disputes at the end of the tenancy.

Taking a detailed inventory is a step often overlooked by landlords often with expensive consequences and could prevent a lot of unnecessary disputes between tenant and landlord.

It is advisable for landlords or agents to make regular inspections when managing a tenancy.

Inspecting on a regular basis say every 3 months, with at least 24 hours prior notice of visit given to and agreed by the tenant, to compare the inventory with the current condition should be perfectly acceptable to both parties.

An end of tenancy inventory should also be completed by the landlord, letting agent or independent inventory clerk and agreed by the tenant just before the tenant leaves so it can be made clear what damage, if any, must be paid for before the balance of the deposit is returned. It is vital that the inventory is checked prior to the tenant leaving so there can be no argument about any damage occurring after the tenant has left.

The deposit should only be handed back with if there are no outstanding issues when the inspection is complete.

If items have been damaged and there is agreement upon responsibility then estimates should be sought for repair or replacement and the tenant informed of all costs in writing prior to amounts being deducted from the deposit. If the deposit doesn’t cover the amount needed to carry out the repairs, the tenant should be invoiced itemising all costs involved for additional payments. If the tenant is insured, this evidence should be provided for the insurance company.

If items need to be replaced then it’s the landlord’s obligation to consider betterment. This means that the original age and condition of the replaced item should be taken into account when estimating the replacement cost.

It is possible that any disputes over such matters may eventually need to be solved through arbitration by a third party – most usually, the Small Claims Court.

In order to avoid liability great care should be taken when:

Recording the state and condition with photographs

Obtaining estimates and repair or replacement costs

Informing the tenant/landlord in writing

If you are uncertain as to how to complete an inventory it would be a wise idea to call in a professional independent service or leave the matter to your letting or managing agent, who should have some degree of competency.

 
 

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