An inventory is a detailed document that outlines the contents and condition of a property when a tenant moves in and when they move out.

The two inventory documents can then be compared so a landlord can decide whether to claim any deductions from the tenant’s deposit.

WHAt should be included in an inventory?

An inventory should not simply be a list of contents, but rather a schedule of condition.

It should include a detailed report on the condition of every room in the property, including:

  • Walls and ceilings
  • Fixtures and fittings
  • Paint colours
  • Flooring
  • Cupboards and storage
  • Windows and doors
  • Appliances
  • Bathroom suites
  • Furniture provided by the landlord
  • Gardens and outdoor spaces
  • Sheds and other outbuildings
  • Each room report should be accompanied by clear photographs showing the condition of the space.

Protect your property by following these guidelines

1. Be proactive
Send the inventory to your tenant as soon as they move in and request that they advise of any discrepancies; otherwise, you can assume they agree with the contents.

Ask the tenant to sign the inventory and note any discrepancies within ten working days.

2. The devil is in the detail
In the event of a dispute, inventory is essential when comparing the condition of the property when the tenancy ends.

The adjudicator won’t see the property, so detail is vital. Good-quality photographs are essential.

3. Ask the tenant to attend
It would be best if you always asked the tenant to present for the check-out report.

If this is not possible, the check-out must be done as soon after their departure as practicable.

4. Make sure you can prove what you claim
Remember that most claims by landlords fail because of a lack of evidence and detail. Be clear and precise.

Always make an allowance for fair wear and tear.

5. The burden of proof is on you
Deposit schemes take the default view, quite rightly, that the deposit is the tenant’s money, so the burden of proof is always on the landlord or their agent if making a claim.

6. Take photographs
While an inventory must be detailed and descriptive, a check-out report can note any changes to the condition.

Photographs of any alleged damage will assist the adjudicator in assessing the damage.

7. Provide quotes to support your claim
When assessing damage, you should provide quotes to support your claim.

You will need to consider the age and condition of an item as you can’t reasonably claim new for old, which is termed ‘betterment.’

For example, if a wall is marked and the property hasn’t been decorated for years, the claim to redecorate would unlikely succeed.

Likewise, a hallway carpet will have a shorter lifespan than a bedroom carpet.

8. Be consistent with terms
Be consistent and use the same terms.

It can be confusing in you refer to ‘Bedroom 1’ at check-in and later as ‘main bedroom’ at check-out.

9. Provide a new inventory for each tenancy
You should always provide a unique inventory for each new tenancy.

Where there is a change of tenant, an inspection should occur with any discrepancies noted against the original tenancy.

All tenants should agree on any damages as liability is joint and several.

10. Inventories work for everyone
An inventory is both the landlord’s and the tenant’s friend.

If you can get an agreement at the commencement of the tenancy, then any issues can usually be resolved without the need for dispute resolution.