Why Are Property Inventories So Important?

Nick Lyons

By Nick Lyons

30 September 2016

If you are a landlord or a tenant renting a property, then the property inventory document is essential, and second only to the rental agreement in terms of importance.  Most professional landlords and agents are aware of this, but many tenants have a more passive attitude towards the inventory, as they do not always appreciate how the document can protect them too.

Essentially a tenant should always request that a property inventory is provided so they cannot be accused of damage for which they are not responsible, at some point in the future.

Inventory management will help to encourage a healthy business arrangement between landlord and tenant at the outset of a new tenancy. It should always be carried out by an inventory professional from the Association of Professional Inventory Providers (APIP), or from the letting agency arranging the tenancy.  This this will allow for queries and complaints to be dealt with independently for both parties concerned.

So, what is a property inventory?

The inventory report is a thoroughly compiled document, detailing each room within the property, its contents and their condition and is often supported by photographs.  Two identical inventory reports are performed during every tenancy – one before the tenant moves in, which is normally referred to as the inventory.  Knowing the standard of the property at the start of the tenancy also helps to set clear expectations of the maintenance required by the tenant.

Another inventory, called the check out, is performed when the tenant moves out with all their belongings.  The check-out report will list recommended actions if applicable, which are normally assigned as a landlord or tenant responsibility.  These reports are imperative to both landlords and tenants because they legally benchmark the quality of the property, and assist to ensure agreement is made quickly at the end of the tenancy.

The two reports should clearly show how the property has changed during the tenancy.  If a disagreement arises, and it leads to a dispute over hygiene or other matters, the inventory will be the most significant piece of evidence. The adjudicator will review the dispute exclusively using the inventory to form their judgement.

The tenant can be present during the inventory and check out, but it is vital that both reports are carefully read.  If any damage is missed out on the check in report, the tenant might find themselves in a difficult situation where they could be asked to pay for damage they have not caused.  So if the tenant finds any omissions or inaccuracies in the inventory, these must be reported immediately to the inventory clerk, letting agent or landlord.  The tenant is required to sign the document, so it is in everyone’s interest to ensure the inventory is accurate.  

Not all tenants can wait for a case to go to dispute, as the deposit is needed for the next property.  Therefore, inventories will help to safeguard tenants against unfair deductions from their deposit when moving out of a property, particularly when the tenant is in a rush to reach an agreement.

Avoiding deposit disputes

Tenants are only liable for damage and not fair wear and tear.  So occupancy numbers, for example a large family, length of tenancy, age and condition and quality of items are key factors when determining fair wear and tear.

A good professional inventory will help immensely in determining replacement costs, as it will detail the original quality and condition for items being claimed.  For example, if a glass is chipped or missing, it has to be determined whether it was from a set of crystal glasses or a non-matching glass from a discount store.

The amount of deposit returned to the tenant will be determined by using the inventory and check out reports.

In summary, here are 5 key reasons why tenants should ensure they have an inventory when starting a new tenancy:-

  1. The inventory will set out the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy, which is agreed by the tenant
  2. It will assist with the ownership of maintenance jobs during the tenancy.  (For example if a faulty oven door was noted during the check in which subsequently breaks, then it is the responsibility of the landlord to repair it.)
  3. The inventory acts as a comprehensive guide on how to return the property at the end of the tenancy
  4. It reduces the potential for disagreements on who is responsible for repairs and damage at the end of the tenancy, and will aid in determining fair wear and tear.
  5. It will safeguard your deposit, providing you have returned the property in the same condition, if a disagreement leads to a formal dispute

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This article is intended for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions related to issues in this article, we strongly advise contacting a legal professional.
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Nick Lyons

By Nick Lyons

30 September 2016

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