What Is a Property Inventory?
Renting a property is an uncertain undertaking, and one which requires a degree of trust from both the landlord and the tenant. The aim of a property inventory is to create a ‘snapshot’ of the property’s condition on the day that the tenant moved in. The state of the property upon the tenant’s check-out is then compared to this baseline – if the condition of the property is worse than at the start of the tenancy, then the cost of remedying it will be taken out from the tenant’s deposit.
While the creation of property inventories is not mandatory, the Tenancy Deposit Scheme strongly recommends their use in order to protect the interests of both parties by ensuring that there are no differences in interpretation about the state of the property, especially in relation to fluid concepts such as ‘normal wear and tear’ and ‘cleanliness’.
Misuse of Property Inventories
Following the ban on ‘rip-off’ letting fees earlier this year, landlords and agents are no longer able to charge tenants for an inventory report, which may prompt landlords to create such reports themselves in order to save money. However, since there is little standardisation and regulation in this area, a report prepared by the landlord runs the risk of being biased against the tenant, open to interpretation or not sufficiently supported by videos/photographs.
Landlords and agents looking to save money may instead want to consider investing in specialised property inventory software. Not only does such a solution provide peace-of-mind by ensuring that all aspects of the property are accounted for in an easy-to-read format, but useful features in the property inventory software also allow for quick identification of any differences between the check-in and check-out condition of the property, helping to avoid disputes.
Regardless of what option a landlord chooses, the Association for Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) recommends that landlords and tenants work together to ensure that the final inventory report is as accurate as it can be in order to avoid disputes down the line. This can be done by preparing the property inventory in the presence of the tenant (or, at the very least, reviewing the completed inventory with the tenant within seven days of completion) and supporting any observations with detailed notes and photographs.