The Importance Of An Inventory For Both Tenant And Landlord

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  • Author Minesh Patel
  • Published October 20, 2019
  • Word count 715

An inventory is a very important part of your tenancy when you rent a property. When you move in you have to pay a deposit which the landlord or his agents have to keep safe in a deposit protection scheme. That money is yours and is due to be returned to you when you move out again. However, if you have caused damage to the property in the meantime, the landlord may be entitled to keep some or all of the deposit in order to carry out repairs. This is why the inventory is so important because it shows, or should show, the condition of everything before you moved in.

An inventory is an in-depth report on the condition of the property and covers everything – walls, floors, ceilings, windows, carpets, appliances in the kitchen if any, furniture if the property is part or fully furnished, paintwork on doors, cupboards, shelving – everything. The actual format of the inventory can be different from one letting agent or landlord to the next. Some letting agents might go into considerable detail while others might use something like a traffic light system – red, amber, or green – but all cover the same basic information.

The inventory is important because it is a report on the condition of everything before you moved in. This includes external fittings such as gutters, fencing, gates, the state of the lawn (good, muddy, patches missing), pathways, decks, patios, and so on. When you move in you need to sign the inventory to say that you agree with it, so it is important that you check everything over before you do so. Some letting agents do not undertake the inventories themselves, but employ an independent firm to carry out an inventory service, but even so mistakes can be made and things missed. You want the inventory to be right because it has a large bearing on the return of your deposit at the end of your tenancy. If everything is plain for all to see at the beginning, there is less likely to be any dispute about the condition of the property when you move out and therefore you should get all your deposit back.

That is, of course, provided you haven’t created any damage yourself. If you have, then the landlord may be entitled to retain some, or all, of your deposit to pay for repairs.

It is not actually a legal requirement for a landlord to provide an inventory, but it is in both his interest and yours that there is one. It means that when you move out there is little room for dispute about the original condition and the current condition. Furthermore, if you don’t have an inventory, there may be damage caused by a previous tenant which has not been spotted and for which you later get the blame. Without an inventory you can’t prove anything one way or another. 

Ideally, it would be best if you were at the property when the inventory is carried out, whether by the landlord’s agents or an inventory service. This gives you a great chance to see what is being noted down and to point out any pre-existing damage before it is included in the inventory. However, if this is not possible you will nonetheless be given a copy of the inventory and asked to check through it in the first few days you are in the property.

You need to check the inventory very carefully and to check EVERYTHING. Check that cupboard doors don’t stick when closing, there are no holes in skirting boards, stains on carpets, any chips to windows or doors, the condition of furniture if part or fully furnished, check outside to see if there are any faults with the gutters or tiles missing, any cracks in the external walls, and so on. Check gate hinges, garage doors, the condition of the pathway, etc. Only sign the inventory when you have satisfied yourself about it.

You are also entitled to make any amendments to it that you see fit before signing it. If you do find things that have been missed, then ask the landlord or letting agent to countersign any amendments you have made so that everyone is fully aware of the condition of everything.

Reports2Go is an app that can be used by letting agents or an inventory service that makes the process of taking an inventory much easier and faster than simply taking written notes.

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