One of the most important things that a Landlord should do, outside of what is legally required, is to ensure a full inventory of the property is conducted before and after each tenant moves in/out of the property.
Many Landlords fails to consider conducting such a check but having a detailed inventory completed protects you as a Landlord in the future
What is an inventory?
An inventory is an itemised list and condition of the contents at the property. It may contain indicative values. It should include all furniture included by the Landlord as part of the furnishings, but it should also point out the condition of the walls, curtains, carpets, bathroom, kitchen appliances, garden and property. It should be signed by the Landlord and the Tenant as an accurate representation of the property at the start of the tenancy. If there are any amendments to the inventory during your tenancy they should be recorded and agreed by both parties.
Why do an inventory?
Many Landlords fail to conduct a proper inventory prior to the tenant moving in. This means that in the event of damage being done to the property the Landlord has very little proof that it was caused by the tenant.
If as a Landlord you wish to withhold part or all of a Tenants deposit and the Tenant does not agree with your assessment of damages then it is up to the Landlord to prove the damages occurred during the tenancy and not prior to the tenant moving in or after they moved out.
The importance of a good inventory
When conducting an inventory go into as much detail as possible about every item in each room including the fixtures and fittings along with the condition of the walls and floors. You may feel that listing the condition and location of every socket, TV port and light-switch seems obsessive but in the event of an accident or a claim against the deposit it is important that you have shown they were in good working order on the day the tenant moved in.
Where possible take photographs.
The more you include in your inventory the better. If you supplement your notes with photographs of the condition of the property then it is indisputable how the property was when the Tenant moved in. If you are noting any damage on the inventory ensure you take a photo of the damage too (with a measure reference where possible). This can save you time and hassle in the long run if you have a dispute over the ambiguity of the inventory description. For example, if you had listed “scratch on wall” without any measurements this doesn’t help you later if you return to find a 4ft gouge out of the wall. The Tenant may try to claim this is what you implied by “scratch on wall” in the moving in inventory. With photographic evidence showing the size and condition of the original damage you protect yourself and ensure that you can claim.
Is there anything else I should do?
Where possible ensure that the tenant checks and signs a copy of the inventory prior to moving into the property and on the day they move out. This allows the Tenant to clarify any notes you have made and ensures that should an issue arise in the future you have signed proof of the condition of the property.
Information contained in this article may have changed since it was first published. Ezylet strongly advises you to seek legal advice from a qualified professional.