A Tenant’s Guide: What is inventory?

Introduction

The inventory:

  • is an essential document when letting a property.
  • details the condition of items provided by the Landlord.
  • provides an objective record which can be used should there be a dispute of damage to items within the property.

Background

An inventory – also known as a schedule of condition – is a key document when renting a property and should be provided by the Landlord at the start of the tenancy.
The inventory is a vital document should there be a dispute over the deposit, as it lists the items that the Landlord has provided as part of the let. An inventory usually includes the following items (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Appliances
  • Curtains
  • Carpets
  • Décor
  • Furniture
  • Kitchenware

The inventory should list the condition of items provided as part of the tenancy; it should document any marks, damage or wear before the Tenant moves in. It should be updated when the Tenant moves out to allow a fair and objective comparison of the condition of items provided when the Tenant moved in and before the Tenant moved
out. This helps to prove whether the items were damaged, or replaced while theTenant was occupying the property.

Why is an inventory used?

An inventory is used to detail the condition of items provided by a Landlord when letting a property. It allows  comparisons of the condition of the property and its contents before and after a tenancy. The inventory allows Landlords to identify missing items, substitute items and items which do not belong to the property. The inventory provides objective evidence of damage which allows agreement to be made between the Landlord and Tenant on repairs that are required or deductions from the Tenant’s deposit.

When is an inventory used?

It is recommended that an inventory should be used with all lets; it is in the interest of both the Landlord and the Tenant that they use an inventory when letting a property.

The inventory should detail the condition of all items provided as part of a tenancy and ideally, should be  complemented by photographs and/or video evidence – especially damaged items. The detail and amount of photographs used are at the discretion of the Landlord or Tenant but, they should be able to prove, absolutely,
what damage has been caused.

Is an inventory compulsory?

Many people believe that the compulsory Tenancy Deposit Scheme made inventories compulsory. This is not the case, the inventory, is an optional document. However, the benefits of the inventory make it an essential document for any Tenant or Landlord when renting a property.

Drawing up an inventory

K&G Lettings Limited recommends that all inventories, as a minimum, detail the following information for items provided as part of a let property:

  • Colour
  • Size
  • Manufacturer
  • Model
  • Serial numbers
  • Any damage e.g. scratches or dents
  • Comments on the items e.g ‘as new condition’, ‘small scratch to left corner’.

Providing this level of detail is extremely time consuming and can run to many pages, however, this can save a huge amount of time and money later should there be any disputes. If you do not feel you have the time or inclination to complete a detailed inventory for a property, K&G Lettings Limited offer a professional inventory service, see  Inventory Service offered by K&G Lettings Limited section below.

Checks against the inventory

Regular and final checks should be made against the inventory by both the Landlord and the Tenant. This sections details when and why.

Moving in

On moving into the property the inventory should be carefully checked. Any
differences between the inventory and the condition of the property should be noted
on the inventory. The inventory should be signed by both the Tenant and Landlord to
certify it reflects the true condition of the items within the property. A copy should be
kept by both the Tenant and the Landlord.

Regular checks

K&G Lettings Limited recommends that regular checks are made against the
inventory, every 3 or 6 months. This allows the Landlord and the Tenant to determine
when repairs are required at the property. Landlords should remember that the Tenant
needs at least 24 hours notice prior to inspection.

Moving out

On the day the Tenant vacates the rented property, K&G Lettings Limited
recommends that the Landlord and Tenant undertake a final check of the condition of
the property and compare this to the inventory created when the Tenant moved in.
The inventory and any repairs and replacements required should be agreed between
the Landlord and Tenant before deductions are made from the deposit. Signed and
dated video or photographic evidence should be taken of all disputed items. If the
Landlord and Tenant do not agree with the costs of repairs, a dispute service, usually
associated with the tenancy deposit scheme chosen by the Landlord should be used.
All quotes for repairs and replacements should be agreed in writing before deductions
are made from the Tenant’s deposit. The deposit should only be returned once the
dispute has been settled. If the deposit does not cover the costs of the repairs, an
invoice itemising all of the work undertaken, less the amount of the deposit should be
sent to the Tenant for payment.

If items are replaced the Landlord should consider ‘betterment’. This means the
Landlord should consider the age and condition of the item to be replaced should be
considered in any estimates for replacement.

What should I do if I do not have an inventory?

If you are a Tenant and your Landlord does not provide you with an inventory when you move into a rental property, you can make one yourself. It is important that the inventory reflects the true condition of items provided as part of the property and is signed by an independent witness. Signed and dated, photographs or video evidence should be used to accompany the inventory providing illustrations of the condition of items. Once completed a copy should be sent to the Landlord. Don’t forget to re-read the ‘Drawing up an inventory’ so you know what to include.

Who pays for an inventory?

Often Tenants and Landlords share the costs of using a professional inventory service to draw up an inventory at the beginning of the tenancy and to check the tenancy at the conclusion of the tenancy. It is always worth asking your Landlord or letting agent before agreeing a tenancy. K&G Lettings Limited can provide an inventory service whereby one of our trained representatives will provide you with a detailed, independent inventory accompanied by photographic or video evidence of the condition of the property. Please contact one of our friendly staff if you require any information – contact us page.

Summary

The inventory is a key document for the Tenant and the Landlord, it allows repairs and replacements to be objectively identified and provides evidence should the responsibility for these repairs or replacements be disputed. It is useful to make regular checks against the inventory to determine whether any items need repairing or replacing. A Tenant can be drawn up by a Tenant if the Landlord has not provided one.

Inventories can be extremely time consuming to undertake but, professional services can be employed which, in the long-run are likely to repay the time and monetary costs required. The cost of drawing up a tenancy are usually  shared by the Tenant and Landlord.