The Benefits of an Inventory - for Tenants and Landlords
An impartial inventory, compiled at the beginning of a tenancy, is an important document which protects both tenants and landlords. It thoroughly documents the content and condition of every room in the property before the tenant takes possession, setting the expectation of the standard required when the property is returned.
If this sounds like just another added hassle when you are already dealing with the stress of moving house, read on. An inventory is there to protect you as well as the landlord and paying attention to the detail now might make a big difference in the case of problems later on.
How an Inventory Works
At the Start of a Tenancy
An inventory is usually compiled by an independent agent, who will attend the property before your tenancy begins and make a detailed note of the condition of each room and item included in the tenancy.
The inventory report must be provided at the start of the tenancy and you should have the chance to read and check it thoroughly. It is important at this point to make sure any existing damage is recorded so that you are not held responsible for it later on. Once it is agreed and signed by both parties, the inventory will serve as a benchmark against which the state of the property at the end of the rental period can be compared.
Meter readings may also be recorded and passed on to the relevant energy companies, making it clear when the responsibility for bills passes from landlord to tenant and avoiding any confusion regarding contract dates. The inventory document can also serve as a reassurance that relevant safety checks have been carried out. For example, the inventory might note that fire alarms are present and have been checked on the day the tenancy starts and that window and door locks are fitted and in good working order.
At the End of a Tenancy
The inventory provides a guideline for you to follow when you are preparing to leave your rented home. Tenants are required to return the property to the state it was in at the beginning of their tenancy, less fair wear and tear. It sets the expectations for cleanliness and protects you from expectations of betterment. The content list can also help you to separate the landlord’s possessions from your own at the end of a long tenancy.
When you leave, there will be a check-out report, where the condition of the property will once again be recorded in detail. The tenant is not always able to attend the check-out so a professional and impartial service is especially important at this point; it will give both you and your landlord the assurance that there is no bias in the final report.
In Case of Dispute
If the property is returned at the end of the tenancy in the condition which was detailed in the inventory (minus fair wear and tear) then the tenant can expect to have their deposit returned in full. The inventory record means that this process is clear, fair, and leaves no room for argument.
Landlords also benefit from an inventory at this point as the onus is on them to justify their claims to the tenancy deposit service, which need evidence before they agree to any deductions. If a tenant causes damage then the landlord need to prove it by showing how the check-out differs from the check-in.