Posted on 1st May 2020 at 08:14
Two questions we are regularly asked by our new landlords:
Do I really need an inventory? and Can I do it myself?
Here is my answer to both questions:
Firstly, the need for an inventory in the first place. There is nothing legally that says you have to have an inventory, but any claim at the end of the tenancy to rectify any issues at the property will quite simply fail if there is no evidence to support the claim. Very few landlords will take on tenants who they think will damage their property, or remove items or generally not look after the property whilst they are living there. But these situations do arise, in truth often to a relatively minor degree, but occasionally they can be quite substantial.
Take for example a tenant who vacates a property and cannot be bothered to remove their old washing machine, has left some rubbish, the garden hasn't been tidied and the house not cleaned, including the kitchen appliances and sanitary-ware. In short the tenant has simply removed their personal possessions and left the property requiring attention before new tenants can move in. Most tenancy agreements will quite properly address these issues, but for a claim against the tenants deposit to be successful so the landlord can recover the justifiable costs to rectify these issues, there must be evidence of the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy and at the end of the tenancy.
So the first reason for compiling an inventory is to ensure there is evidence if required for any claim.
But the second reason is just as valid in my opinion. A comprehensive inventory 'sets the tone' for new tenants. They sign off a copy of the Check In Inventory to agree the condition of the property. They know there is indisputable evidence right from the outset of their tenancy. Rather than this being something that is regarded as negative towards your tenants we have actually found quite the reverse with our tenants welcoming and commenting positively on a comprehensive inventory being provided to them.
A comprehensive check out inspection is just as important, preferably, where possible, by the same clerk that prepared the check in report to ensure continuity of evidence.
The second question - Can I do it myself?
The answer is yes you can, but here are the reasons not to!
Firstly, evidence from a landlord is not regarded as strong as the evidence from an inventory clerk, particularly a clerk who is qualified to prepare inventories.
Qualified inventory clerks have the experience to know what the issues are that generally arise at the end of the tenancy and how best to ensure the evidence is captured.
Qualified inventory clerks will generally be using industry software that produces a pdf report with plenty of detail and accompanying photographs. We have previously been provided with a property inventory which consisted of a couple of pieces of A4 paper with very little detail and without any photographs. This was of no use at all when we were asked to conduct a check-out inspection at the property by the landlord and resulted in no claim where in all probability a claim could have been justified had a comprehensive inventory been prepared at the outset.
Qualified inventory clerks can also advise on the deposit claims process. It is not as straight-forward as many landlords think.
So our advice is to use a qualified inventory clerk and ensure you have a comprehensive inventory at the start and the end of the tenancy. By doing so you are protecting your investment in the best way that you can.