Inventories – who needs them?
Preparing an inventory before letting a property has been common practice for many years. It should provide a realistic description of the property, any furniture and fittings plus describe condition and any damage already present. A good inventory should also reduce the possibility of a dispute at the end of the tenancy. So in reality, both Landlord AND Tenant need an inventory.
According to my Dictionary, and inventory is described as “a detailed list of objects in a particular place” this comes from the Medieval Latin Inventorium “to make a list of”. For the purposes of a rental property this normally includes details of the building itself, any fixtures and fittings plus notes about the condition and cleanliness (often referred to as a schedule of condition).
The basis of an inventory must be to describe accurately the condition of a property including all fixtures, fittings and contents so as to provide a benchmark at the start of the tenancy that both the landlord and tenant can agree to. At the end of a tenancy, this can then be used to compare the condition and accurately gauge whether the condition upon surrender of the property is acceptable.
With the introduction of the laws that require all Tenancy deposits to be registered, it is becoming much more important to have this document available to support any claims at the end of a tenancy. This is especially true where a dispute is raised because neither party will agree with the other – sometimes about material things or sometimes about perceived costs.
Example 1 – possible scenario
Landlord wants to claim for a missing item at the end of the tenancy. If the original inventory shows this item (I prefer to have a photograph also) then it is highly likely that and independent arbitration would find in favour of the landlord and allow them the cost of replacement from the tenants deposit.
Example 2 – Actual case
A Landlord wanted to claim that a garden required professional landscaping due to negligence of the tenant. Whilst the condition of the garden was not great at the end of the tenancy, the tenant accepted this and offered either to come and put it right or pay for it to be done. The claim by the landlord was vastly inflated so was disputed by the tenant. The original inventory and pictures showed that the condition of the garden at the start of the tenancy was not great, and therefore the costs of the landlord were declined. In this case the tenant benefited from the inventory.
Ultimately, the inventory is about fairness:-
If you rent a property as tenant, you have obligations to look after the property and keep it in good condition then hand it back in reasonable and similar condition allowing for fair wear & tear. Any more than this and you will have to pay to put it right.
If you are a landlord you will have to allow for reasonable use & occupation and whatever wear & tear comes with it. You can’t expect the property to be improved or handed back in identical condition. A few scuffs and scrapes will have to be tolerated and is actually seen as your responsibility.