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A guide to inventories

17 September 2021 / Landlord News

Before a tenancy starts, it’s normal for an inventory to be taken. This information is record of the physical state of the property and will be used if there is any dispute about the return of the deposit money once a tenant moves out. 

In this blog, we talk about why it’s so important for tenants to be involved with the inventory process and how it could end up saving you money. 

What is an inventory?

An inventory details the present state of a property. The first record is taken at start of a tenancy at check-in and will be used as a comparison once tenants move out. The inventory will also detail how clean certain items are in the property. The final report should be as detailed as possible and include dated photographs.

Although an inventory isn’t a legal requirement, it’s always best to take one. It should be well-structured and easy to understand – so make sure you ask about anything that isn’t clear.  

Why do deposits matter? 

If you’re a tenant, you’ll probably have to put down a deposit in order to rent a property. This money protects the property during the tenancy, and by law, must be safe-guarded in one of three government-authorised tenancy deposit schemes. Once a tenant hands over the deposit, the landlord or letting agent must secure the money in a tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme. 

If the property is not in the same state at the end of a tenancy (allowing for fair wear and tear), the landlord or letting agent may need to make a deduction to the deposit for repairs. 

Who carries out an inventory?

A letting agent or landlord can pull together an inventory; but it’s best to have an inventory clerk compile the report as they’re trained to record every detail. At Stirling Ackroyd, we use a specialist service as a thorough inventory is one of the best ways to avoid a deposit dispute at the end of a tenancy.  

If you’re a tenant, always meet with the clerk at the property. Walk around with them to make sure you agree with the information being recorded. Remember that you will be asked to sign the inventory and confirm that it’s an accurate reflection of the property.

What should it include?

The inventory should be a detailed record that includes the following:  

  • the internal structure (walls, ceiling and floor)
  • decoration, e.g. paintwork
  • carpets and curtains
  • furniture and appliances
  • windows and doors
  • fittings and fixtures 

The report should also include smoke alarms and any carbon monoxide detectors. It may also include meter readings. If you don’t agree with anything recorded, supply high-quality photos or videos straight away and have this changed. This might include any marks that might have been missed, appliances that don’t work or items that aren’t there. Make sure that photos are high resolution and that the room is well lit. It’s also a good idea to show an indication of scale with a ruler. Finally, make sure the images are date stamped. 

What happens once I move out?

If you decide to move out, the clerk will come back to the property to take a second inventory. Before the clerk arrives, make sure you clean the property, remove any of your items and fix any minor issues, such as marks on walls or carpets. As with check-in, always walk around the property with the clerk as the final report will be compared with the original inventory.  

After the clerk leaves, your letting agent or landlord will then provide a check-out report, which includes any evidence of damage and the cost of repair. If you’re happy with the report, your deposit will be returned, minus any deductions.

What if I don’t agree with the final inventory?  

According to my|deposits, only 1% of tenancies end in a formal dispute, i.e. when the landlord and tenant can’t come to an agreement. 60% of deposits are returned in full, and 39% are given back minus deductions for repairs.  

If you find yourself in a dispute, each TDP scheme offers a free deposit resolution service which will come to a final decision. If this happens, you’ll be asked to show evidence that backs-up your claim. This is why it’s so important you attend the inventory before you move in and agree the detail is all accurate. 

Seek expert advice

At Stirling Ackroyd, we successfully move tenants into their new rental homes every day and take great pride in making sure tenancies are set-up for success. If you’d like to take a look at the properties available to let in your area, or speak to our lettings team about our landlord services, visit xxxx or call xxxx.

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